Search The Library's Lexicon
Special damages are one actually sustained, rather than implied by law. They are either added to general damages arising from an act injurious in itself; such as when some particular loss arises from the uttering of slanderous words, actionable in themselves; or are such as arise from an act not actionable in itself, but injurious only in its consequences; such as when the words become actionable only by reason of special damage ensuing. To constitute special damage, the legal and natural consequence must arise from the tort - not from a mere wrongful act of a third person or a remote consequence.
Pleading. As distinguished from the gist of the action, signify that special damage which is stated to result from the gist; e.g., if a plaintiff in an action of trespass for breaking his close, entering his house, and tossing his goods about were to state that he was obliged to seek lodging elsewhere due to the damage done to his house.
Sometimes the special damage is said to constitute the gist of the action itself; e.g., in an action wherein the plaintiff declares for slanderous words which of themselves are not a sufficient ground or foundation for the suit, but if any particular damage result to the plaintiff from the speaking of them, that damage is properly said to be the gist of the action.
But whether special damage be the gist of the action, or only collateral to it, it must be particularly stated, as the plaintiff will not otherwise be permitted to go into evidence of it at the trial, because the defendant cannot also be prepared to answer it.