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Trial Procedure: Indiana Court of Appeals Holds Written Findings Not Required By Trial Rule 52(A)
Posted in Litigation

On Monday, in Nunn Law Office v. Rosenthal, a unanimous three-judge panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals held that though “the preferred format for findings and conclusions is that they be in written form,” “the plain language of [Trial] Rule 52(A) does not require that the findings and conclusions be in writing.”  The Court explained that, “[w]hile the rule specifies that a request for findings and conclusions must be in writing, it imposes no similar writing requirement upon the trial court in issuing these findings and conclusions.”  The Court determined that the purpose of Rule 52(A) was to provide all involved with the theory upon which the trial court’s decision was based to facilitate appellate review for error.  The Court found that “oral findings and conclusions can achieve this purposes so long as they are thoroughly detailed in the record.”  In this case, the trial court issued oral findings regarding the attorneys’ fees owed to Nunn Law Office, the prior attorney for the plaintiff in a personal injury case, once the plaintiff’s case reached a monetary settlement.  The Court affirmed the trial court's judgment, finding that “the trial court’s calculations and judgment are fully apparent” from the record.  The Indiana Court of Appeals further affirmed the trial court’s determination that quantum meruit, not the 40% contingency fee contract Nunn Law Office had with the plaintiff, guided the amount of attorneys’ fees owed.  It further recognized that the “dollar value to offset the unjust enrichment is based on the value conferred on the client, not the effort expended by the lawyer, although the two may be the same in many instances.”

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