Suppose I am given a lottery ticket. This ticket has a 1 in 1000 chance of winning me one million dollars, and will otherwise be worth nothing.
Before I can see whether I've won, some guy comes along and destroys the ticket. There is no way to buy a replacement, and no way of knowing whether the ticket would have paid out or not.
The expected value of the ticket is clearly 1e6/1e3 = one thousand dollars. My question is, would the court do that math and award me one thousand dollars? It's extremely unlikely that I've suffered any actual loss, so obviously I can't recover a million bucks in speculative damages from the guy; and yet $0 in damages hardly seems fair.
In other words: If the actual value of my loss cannot be determined with certainty, yet the statistically expected value of the loss can be, can I recover the expected damages?
Bonus question: Suppose instead of the ticket being a gift, I had paid $500 for it, or $2000. (Remember, I can't buy another one.) Would either situation change the result?