Omission of a Jury Instruction In Michigan

The omission of an instruction is not error warranting reversal if the jury instructions as a whole cover the substance of the omitted instruction. In Cody v. Marcel Electric Co, 71 Mich. App. 714, 720-721; 248 N.W.2d 663 (1976), the plaintiff alleged that the omission of the word "necessarily" from the instruction regarding the plaintiff's theory of negligent design required reversal. The Court held that omission of the word did not render the instruction erroneous and also that its inclusion would have made the instruction misleading. Id. Additionally, in Van Every v. Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority, 142 Mich. App. 256, 259-260; 369 N.W.2d 875 (1985), the plaintiff alleged that the trial court's omission of the word "disability" from the instruction and the failure to correct the omission after objection constituted error requiring reversal. The Court held that where it was perfectly clear that no prejudice could have resulted from the slight omission from the standard instruction, reversal was not required. Id. at 261. We review jury instructions in their entirety. Stoddard v. Manufacturers Nat'l Bank of Grand Rapids, 234 Mich. App. 140, 163; 593 N.W.2d 630 (1999). It is error to instruct a jury about an issue unsustained by the evidence or the pleadings. Murdock v. Higgins, 454 Mich. 46, 60; 559 N.W.2d 639 (1997). "However, there is no error requiring reversal if, on balance, the theories of the parties and the applicable law were adequately and fairly presented to the jury." Id. The determination whether an instruction is accurate and applicable to a case rests within the sound discretion of the trial court. Stevens v. Veenstra, 226 Mich. App. 441, 443; 573 N.W.2d 341 (1997)