Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff sued Defendant for personal injuries sustained in a car accident involving Plaintiff and Defendant’s employee. Plaintiff did not plead injury for elevated blood pressure and an injured shoulder but introduced evidence of such injuries at trial. The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff and Defendant appealed, arguing that Plaintiff could not recover for special damages not contained in the pleadings.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Special damages must either be contained in the pleadings or evidence must be presented that the damages are the inevitable or necessary result of injuries already alleged in the pleadings. This allows the defendant to know what injuries the plaintiff will attempt to prove.
Issue. Should the trial court have admitted evidence of Plaintiff’s elevated blood pressure and injury to her shoulder when those injuries were not specifically pled in the petition?
Held. No. Plaintiff’s motion for rehearing denied. Before the plaintiff can recover for an injury, the injury must be specifically pled or the evidence must be established that the injury is “an inevitable and necessary” result of injuries already contained in the pleadings. There was no evidence presented at trial that high blood pressure is a necessary and inevitable result of the injuries allegedly sustained by the collision. Nor did Plaintiff amend the complaint to include high blood pressure. Defendant’s notice that Plaintiff suffered from elevated blood pressure and claimed such injury as the result of the collision does not satisfy the requirement that special damages must be pled. The rule in subsection c. above applies equally to evidence of Plaintiff’s shoulder injury. There is no need to construe the Missouri rule requiring items of special damages be specifically pled like Rule 9(g) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Both rules are clear and there is no precedent cited by Plaintiff showing that it would allow the court to admit evidence of injuries not specifically pled.
Discussion. The Court’s decision shows that evidence of special damages not pled in a complaint cannot be admitted at trial. Even though Defendant had notice that Plaintiff would argue that she suffered from high blood pressure that was allegedly caused by the collision, Plaintiff needed to specifically plead the injury in order to have the evidence admitted.