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I have a very oddly specific situational question;

In a civil lawsuit where a plaintiff is attempting to gain a sum of money from the defending party, is the plaintiff and their counsel allowed to change the amount sought, after the defendant has been served a court summons (which has the damages sought stated on it). Or are damages ultimately decided by a judge/jury and the damages sought are somewhat irrelevant to a case? If this was in fact allowed, why wouldn't the plaintiff always change the requested damages after more evidence comes to light before a trial? It seems ridiculous that somebody could do that in the US justice system, I couldn't find any law or rule pertaining to this issue.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

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I have a very oddly specific situational question;

Actually there is nothing odd about it, it comes up all the time.

In a civil lawsuit where a plaintiff is attempting to gain a sum of money from the defending party, is the plaintiff and their counsel allowed to change the amount sought, after the defendant has been served a court summons (which has the damages sought stated on it). Or are damages ultimately decided by a judge/jury and the damages sought are somewhat irrelevant to a case? If this was in fact allowed, why wouldn't the plaintiff always change the requested damages after more evidence comes to light before a trial?

There are two rules involved.

If a default judgment is entered, generally speaking, a plaintiff cannot secure a judgment for more than was requested in the complaint that was served. So, if you think that the defendant might not answer and the original complaint was wrong, you need to not seek a default on the original complaint, amend the complaint and reserve the amended complaint.

The idea behind this rule is that the defendant should be able to make a rational decision about whether or not to fight a lawsuit based upon what is at stake in the lawsuit and not be surprised if the defendant decides to default to avoid litigation costs.

But, if a party answers the Complaint, then damages are determined based upon the evidence provided at trial and may ultimately be determined at trial to be either higher or lower than the amount claimed in the Complaint.

The idea behind this rule is that if the defendant had decided to litigate that the ultimate outcome should prefer reality to procedure since each party has input into how the decision is made by the court.

It also isn't uncommon for events that take place after the filing of the Complaint to change the amount of damages that are owed. Sometimes the damages go down, for example, if it is possible to mitigate damages in some way such as by selling defective goods that were delivered at a discount. Sometimes the damages go up, for example, because storage costs for the defective good that were received and are being held as evidence or for resale continue to accrue.

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Can the plaintiff in a civil case change the requested damages after the defendant has already been served the summons? I couldn't find any law or rule pertaining to this issue.

Yes, the plaintiff is allowed to do that. Various rules of the California Code of Civil Procedure permit it regardless of whether the defendant has filed an answer.

For instance, see rule 472(a):

A party may amend its pleading once without leave of the court at any time before the answer

or the catch-all language in rule 473(a)(1):

The court may [...] allow a party to amend any pleading or proceeding [...] by correcting [...] a mistake in any other respect.

The notion of mistake does not exclude an inadequate relief that the plaintiff seeks to adjust.

why wouldn't the plaintiff always change the requested damages after more evidence comes to light before a trial?

It is a trade-off: Is the enhancement of prayer for relief worth the resulting delay and hassle in the proceedings? Repeated fine tuning of his prayer for relief might even be disregarded or be considered frivolous by a court. See rule 475:

The court must, in every stage of an action, disregard any error [...] in the pleadings or proceedings which, in the opinion of said court, does not affect the substantial rights of the parties.

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