Dulaney v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Ins. Co.Annotate this Case
In 2009, Plaintiff’s floral shop was destroyed by a fire. State Farm Casualty Insurance Company, with whom Plaintiff had an insurance policy for her business, paid Plaintiff the maximum amount available under her policy, which was approximately $21,105. Plaintiff filed suit against State Farm and insurance agent Shawn Ori, alleging that Ori, acting as State Farm’s agent, had a professional duty to ascertain or advise her of the adequate amount of coverage for her business and that his failure to do so constituted professional negligence. State Farm and Ori jointly moved for summary judgment on the ground that Plaintiff failed to name an expert witness to establish the standard of care applicable to an insurance agent. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding that expert testimony was required to establish the standard of care to which Ori was required to conform. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff’s failure to obtain an expert witness resulted in an insufficiency of proof regarding duty and thus prevented Plaintiff from establishing a prima facie claim of negligence.