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Request for Monetary Relief Ideas

In North Carolina, pursuant to NCGS Chapter 1A Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 8(A), when a Plaintiff files a lawsuit, the Plaintiff may not state a specific amount of relief sought other than to specify that the case seeks either less than $10,000.00 (District Court) or an amount exceeding $10,000.00 (Superior Court).

Under Rule 8A(2), a party may make a written request to another party to seek the exact amount of relief sought in the suit.  This is called a "Request for Statement of Monetary Relief".  The Rule says:

Rule 8A(2)       A demand for judgment for the relief to which he deems himself entitled. Relief in the alternative or of several different types may be demanded. In all negligence actions, and in all claims for punitive damages in any civil action, wherein the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of ten thousand dollars ($10,000), the pleading shall not state the demand for monetary relief, but shall state that the relief demanded is for damages incurred or to be incurred in excess of ten thousand dollars ($10,000). However, at any time after service of the claim for relief, any party may request of the claimant a written statement of the monetary relief sought, and the claimant shall, within 30 days after such service, provide such statement, which shall not be filed with the clerk until the action has been called for trial or entry of default entered. Such statement may be amended in the manner and at times as provided by Rule 15.

Requests for Monetary Relief pose a few problems for Plaintiffs.  The first problem is that sometimes the Plaintiff is not yet certain of the exact amount of relief sought.  This may happen if an injury is ongoing, a plaintiff has not recovered from the injury, or the recovery is uncertain.  Sometimes the amount sought is not certain because to determine the exact amount of injury may take further discovery in the suit.

The second problem is that there is an argument, at least, that a Plaintiff may be questioned about the Amount of Monetary Relief Sought, and that the response may be admissible at trial.  This can pose a problem if the attorney responding to the Request "throws out" a single large number that is unreasonable, or may appear unreasonable at the time of trial.  Further, if the trial is not going well, or some key piece of evidence is excluded, even what might have been a reasonable Response amount, might look fully unreasonable (to a jury) at some later date.

Thus, when you respond to a Request for Monetary Relief Sought, I recommend a few things:

Request a range of compensation. 
The rules do not specify that the Plaintiff name a "single" dollar figure.  The rules are fairly vague in terms of itemizing damages.  I suggest asking for a range that you will feel comfortable having a jury hear, even if you don't expect them to ever see the Response.

Leave the door open. 
Even though the Rules specifically allow for amending a the Response, reserve the right to amend in the Response.

Tell the whole truth so the Statement is not attractive as evidence. 
Don't just request a figure, explain where that figure comes from and any other limiting factors or explanations.

EXAMPLE

That Plaintiff requests monetary relief in an amount of $ LOW RANGE to $ HIGH RANGE dollars at this time.  Plaintiff can not give a more specific answer to this request at this time as discovery is still ongoing in this matter. Further, plaintiff asserts that Plaintiff is entitled to damages for past, present, and future pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of use of a part of the body, and permanent disability.  These damages can not be determined by any formula and are to be determined by a jury in a manner which is just and fair. Further, Plaintiff's request includes damages for (include other elements of damages as related to claim).  In any event, the Plaintiff does not request relief to exceed the liability insurance policy of the defendant provided by (INS CO) in the amount of $(LIMITS) though reserves the right to amend this statement of relief requested.

Obviously, if you are requesting an amount that you believe exceeds the insurance policy limits, you may want to change that language or omit it.

I have used this format for many years and only once received an objection, though that objection never went anywhere.  Also, I've never had a defense attorney attempt to enter the Request Response into evidence.  Under NC case law, it seems clear that the Plaintiff would be allowed to explain the request and that that explanation could include the mention of insurance (depending on the Judge, of course).  And don't forget, DON'T FILE THE RESPONSE WITH THE COURT.


 

Chris Nichols

Nichols Law Firm

www.NicholsTrialLaw.com 1.800.906.5984

Comments

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Burns

Good advice.

We managed to keep ours out in the mold case you know about, arguing that it was a pleading and therefore was not to be read to the jury.

It was Epstein's idea, and it worked.

Chris Nichols

I'm glad that argument worked, but I don't actually think the law supports the argument though 90% of Judges think it does. The proposition that "pleadings" should not be read is a throw back to the pre-notice pleadings where all the pleadings were read at the beginning of a trial. There is case law which says that despite that prohibition, even a non-verfied pleading may be used at trial essentially as a "statement of party oppponent." I can't put my finger on the case this second, but I've used it to introuduce Requests for Admissions and an Answer in a case where liability was denied for 3 years and then admitted on the eve of trial. It took some arguing and a brief on the cases, but the Judge allowed it in for several reasons, including: impeachment, admission of party opponent, and that the case law allowed it. If you need the case, shoot me an email to: nicholsatty@gmail.com and I'll dig it out of my trial notebook.

Chris

Charlotte Attorney

great post, i am actually going to use this as a basis of my reply to defendant's request! awesome

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