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Compensatory damages are those which the law considers sufficient to indemnify the person injured for the loss suffered.

In studying this definition, attention must be paid to the words, "which the law considers." What the law considers as full compensation is very often not full compensation in reality for the wrong suffered. "It has been contended that the true measure of damages, in all actions of covenant, is the loss actually sustained. But this rule is laid down too generally. In an action of covenant for nonpayment of money on a bond or mortgage, no more than the principal and legal interest of the debt can be recovered, although the plaintiff may have suffered to a much greater amount by the default of payment." 1

"Every defendant against whom an action is brought experiences some injury or inconvenience beyond what the costs will compensate him for.""

The principle might perhaps be stated as follows: Compensatory damages are such as will compensate the injured party for all losses, except those losses for which, on account of grounds of expediency or public policy, the law says that there shall be no recovery. Especially can no damages be recovered for losses which are the remote consequences of the wrongful act.$

1 Bender vs. Fromberger, 4 Dall., 436, 444.

Bron. Leg. Max., 199.
See Chapter III.

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Exemplary damages, also known as punitive or vindictive damages, are those given beyond the actual or compensatory damages, and in the nature of a punishment to the wrongdoer. Exemplary damages are only awarded in cases where the act of the defendant involved insult, fraud, malice, or oppression.*

Exemplary damages can generally only be recovered in an action of tort." Actions for breach of promise of marriage are an exception to the general rule; as are also actions on a statutory bond, where its condition was broken up by an act constituting a tort such as would ordinarily justify the infliction of exemplary damages.' Exemplary damages are never given in courts of equity.


Nominal damages are those of no appreciable amount. Nominal damages are awarded where there has been an infringement of a legal right, but where such infringement occasioned no real damage, and where it was not accompanied by aggravating circumstances. The plaintiff, in some cases, may recover nominal damages even where the wrongful act of the defendant resulted in a benefit to the plaintiff.

New Orleans, etc., R. Co. vs.
Statham, 42 Miss., 607, 97 Am.
Dec., 478; In Southern R. Co.
vs. Kendrick, 40 Miss., 374, 390,
90 Am. Dec., 332, it is said, that
"a neglect of duty, clearly not
attended with any circum-
stances of insult, of aggrava-
tion of feelings, of injury or
mental suffering, would not
justify vindictive damages; yet
if there be any evidence tend-
ing to show such circumstances,
its weight and force rest pecu-
liarly in the discretion of the

'Guilford vs. Anglo-French Steam

ship Co., 9 Car., Sup. Ct., 303. McPherson vs. Ryan, 59 Mich., 33, 26 N. W., 321.

'Hale on Damages, p. 213; Rich

mond vs. Shickler, 57 Iowa,
486; North vs. Johnson, 58
Minn., 242, 59 N. W.
Bird vs. Railroad Co., 8 Rich.
Eq., 46.

Hancock vs. Hibbill, 71 Cal., 527,
Ga., 985, 42 S. E., 413; Radloff
vs. Haase, 196 Ill., 365, 63 N.
E., 729.


Substantial damages are any damages, either compensatory or exemplary in their character, which amount to an appreciable sum.




For the purposes of determining liability, the consequences of wrongful conduct are divided into proximate consequences, and remote consequences. Compensation can be recovered for losses which are the proximate consequences of wrongful conduct, but not for losses which are the remote consequences.'

These different classes of consequences shade into each other, and a test of remoteness which can be applied in all cases has not yet been found.

"The question as to what is the direct or proximate cause of an injury is ordinarily not one of science or legal knowledge, but of fact, for a jury to determine in view of the accompanying circumstances."""

One of the best tests yet advanced has been that of the "most conspicuous antecedent," suggested by John Stuart Mill. "The cause of an event is the sum total of the contingencies of every description, which, being realized, the event invariably follows. It is rarely if ever, that the invariable sequence of events subsists between one antecedent and one consequent. Ordinarily, that condition is usually termed the cause whose share in the matter is most conspicuous, and is the most immediately preceding and proximate to the event.''

See Hale on Damages, p. 34.
Schumaker vs. St. Paul and D. R.
Co., 46 Minn., 39, 48 N. W., 559.

Moulton vs. Inhabitants of Sanford, 51 Me., 127, 134.

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