JOE NOFAR V JACK E EIKENBERRYAnnotate this Case
STATE OF MICHIGAN
COURT OF APPEALS
JOE NOFAR and SUPER KLEAN PRODUCTS,
October 30, 1998
Wayne Circuit Court
LC No. 94-408564 NZ
JACK E. EIKENBERRY and EIKENBERRY &
HASTINGS MUTUAL INSURANCE
Before: Young, Jr., P.J., and Wahls and Jansen, JJ.
Plaintiffs appeal as of right the judgment entered after a jury trial, incorporating the directed
verdict granted to defendants on plaintiffs’ negligence count. We affirm. This appeal is being decided
without oral argument pursuant to MCR 7.214(E).
Plaintiffs filed a two count complaint alleging professional negligence and fraud on the part of
defendants in securing insurance for property owned by plaintiffs. Plaintiffs claimed that defendant
Eikenberry was negligent in failing to secure both property and premises liability insurance for the
property when both coverages were indicated on plaintiffs’ deposit check. Plaintiffs’ fraud claim was
based on their assertion that Eikenberrry represented that he had obtained full coverage for plaintiffs.
The trial court granted a directed verdict on the negligence claim, based on plaintiffs’ failure to present
proof on the breach of the standard of care. The jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiffs on the
In reviewing a trial court’s decision on a motion for directed verdict, this Court views the
evidence presented in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, grants that party every
reasonable inference, and resolves any conflict in the evidence in that party’s favor to decide whether a
question of fact existed. Hatfield v St Mary’s Medical Center, 211 Mich App 321, 325; 535 NW2d
272 (1995). Where the evidence is such that reasonable jurors could honestly have reached different
conclusions, the trial court may not substitute its judgment for that of the jury, and the motion must be
denied. Berryman v K Mart Corp, 193 Mich App 88, 91; 483 NW2d 642 (1992).
The trial court granted defendants’ motion based on the absence of evidence pertaining to the
standard of care and the breach of that standard. Generally, expert testimony is required in a
professional negligence case to establish the applicable standard of care and to demonstrate that the
professional breached that standard. Sullivan v Russell, 417 Mich 398, 407; 338 NW2d 181 (1983);
Taylor v Wyeth Laboratories, Inc, 139 Mich App 389, 399; 362 NW2d 293 (1984). Where the
lack of professional care is so manifest that it would be within the common knowledge and experience
of laypersons, expert testimony is not required. Sullivan, supra.
Plaintiffs failed to present any evidence as to the standard of care applicable to insurance
professionals. The complaint alleged that although defendants first bound coverage on the building, they
notified plaintiffs prior to the accident that they exceeded their authority, but would try to obtain
alternative coverage. The complaint alleged that this conduct was negligent and below the standard of
care for professional licensed insurance agents. Where plaintiffs failed to support this allegation with any
evidence as to the proper standard of care, the trial court correctly granted a directed verdict as to the
/s/ Robert P. Young, Jr.
/s/ Myron H. Wahls
/s/ Kathleen Jansen