RULE 52. FINDINGS BY THE COURT
(a) Effect. In all actions tried upon the facts without a jury or with an advisory jury, the court shall find the facts specially and state separately its conclusions of law thereon and direct the entry of the appropriate judgment; and in granting or refusing temporary injunctions the court shall similarly set forth the findings of fact and conclusions of law which constitute the grounds of its actions. Requests for findings are not necessary for purposes of review. Findings of fact, including findings in juvenile matters, whether based on oral or documentary evidence, shall not be set aside unless clearly erroneous, and due regard shall be given to the opportunity of the trial court to judge the credibility of the witnesses. The findings of a master or juvenile referee, to the extent that the court adopts them, shall be considered as the findings of the court. It will be sufficient if the findings of fact and conclusions of law are stated orally and recorded in open court following the close of the evidence or appear in an opinion or memorandum of decision filed by the court. Findings of fact and conclusions of law are unnecessary on decisions of motions under Rules 12 or 56 or any other motion except as provided in subdivision (c) of this rule.
(b) Amendment. On motion served and filed no later than 15 days after notice of entry of judgment the court may amend its findings--or make additional findings--and may amend the judgment. The motion may accompany a motion for a new trial under Rule 59. When findings of fact are made in actions tried without a jury, the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the findings may be later questioned whether or not the party raising the question in the district court objected to the findings, moved to amend them, or moved for partial findings.
(c) Judgment on Partial Findings. If during a trial without a jury a party has been fully heard on an issue and the court finds against the party on that issue, the court may enter judgment as a matter of law against that party with respect to a claim, or defense that cannot under the controlling law be maintained or defeated without a favorable finding on that issue, or the court may decline to render any judgment until the close of all the evidence. Such a judgment shall be supported by findings of fact and conclusions of law as required by subdivision (a) of this rule.
Rule 52 was amended, effective August 1, 1971; March 1, 1986; March 1, 1994; March 1, 1997; March 1, 1998; March 1, 2004.
A choice between two permissible views of the evidence is not clearly erroneous when the trial court's findings are based either on physical or documentary evidence, or inferences from other facts, or on credibility determinations.
Anderson v. City of Bessemer City, N.C., 470 U.S. 564, 105 S. Ct. 1504, 84 L. Ed. 2d 518 (1985). Prior decisions of this Court the supreme court to the contrary are to be disregarded.
Subdivision (a) was amended, effective March 1, 1994, to expressly provide that findings of fact, whether based on oral or documentary evidence, are not to be set aside unless clearly erroneous.
See Stracka v. Peterson, 377 N.W.2d 580 (N.D. 1985). Subdivision (a) was further amended, effective March 1, 2004, to provide that findings of fact in juvenile matters, including referee findings adopted by the district court, are not to be set aside unless clearly erroneous. Prior decisions of the supreme court to the contrary are to be disregarded.
Subdivision (c) was added, effective March 1, 1994, to track the 1991 federal amendment, by authorizing the court in a non-jury trial to enter judgment at any time that the court can make a dispositive finding of fact on the evidence against any party. The new subdivision replaces part of Rule 41(b), which formerly authorized a dismissal at the close of the plaintiff's case if the plaintiff had failed to carry an essential burden of proof.
See N.D.R.Ct. 7.1, which concerns the preparation of orders, decrees, findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Sources: Joint Procedure Committee Minutes of September 18-19, 2003, pages 24-25; September 26-27, 1996, pages 10-12; April 25, 1996, pages 18-19; September 28-29, 1995, pages 17-18; January 28-29, 1993, page 8; March 28, 1985, pages 1-3; January 19, 1984, pages 3-4; November 29-30, 1979, page 14; Fed.R.Civ.P. 52.
SUPERSEDED: N.D.R.C. §§ 28-1601, 28-1602, 28-1603, 28-1605 (1943).
CONSIDERED: N.D.C.C. § 27-20-56 (1).
CROSS REFERENCE: N.D.R.Ct. 7.1 (Judgments, Orders and Decrees), N.D.R.Civ.P. 12 (Defenses and Objections--When and How Presented--By Pleading or Motion--Motion for Judgment on Pleadings), N.D.R.Civ.P. 41 (Dismissal of Actions), N.D.R.Civ.P. 56 (Summary Judgment),
and N.D.R.Civ.P. 59 (New Trials--Amendment of Judgments); N.D.R.App.P. 35 (Scope of Review); and N.D. Sup. Ct. R. 13 (Judicial Referees).