This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
City of Minneapolis Fire Department/Civil Service Commission,
Horton & Associates, P.A.,
Sonja Dunnwald Peterson,
Filed March 14, 2000
Reversed and Remanded
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 961314
Frederick E. Finch, Aklilu D. Dunlap, Bassford, Lockhart, Truesdell & Briggs, P.A., 3550 Multifoods Tower, 33 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN† 55402 (for appellant)
John S. Hughes, The Law Offices of John S. Hughes, Barristers Trust Building, 247 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN† 55415 (for respondent)
††††††††††† Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Huspeni, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D†† O P I N I O N
Appellant Horton & Associates, P.A., challenges the district courtís allocation of attorney fees between itself and its former associate, respondent Sonja Dunnwald Peterson.† We reverse and remand.
The parties dispute what findings are required by a district court when allocating attorney fees in a contingency case between a law firm and a former associate who continued with the case after leaving the firm.† This presents an issue of law, which we review de novo.† Frost-Benco Elec. Assín v. Minnesota Pub. Utils. Commín, 358 N.W.2d 639, 642 (Minn. 1984).
When a discharged law firm and a former attorney who took the case upon leaving the firm dispute attorney fees in a contingency case, the district court allocates the fees according to a multi-factor test.† In re L-tryptophan cases, 518 N.W.2d 616, 621 (Minn. App. 1994); see also Ashford v. Interstate Trucking Corp. of Am., 524 N.W.2d 500, 503 (Minn. App. 1994) (citing six of the factors set out in L-tryptophan when allocating fees between a law firm that rightfully withdrew from representation and the clientís subsequent attorney).† Generally, in cases where the district court is weighing multiple factors to make an ultimate determination, the district court is required to make findings of fact to permit meaningful appellate review.† See Crowley Co. v. Metropolitan Airports Commín, 394 N.W.2d 542, 545 (Minn. App. 1986) (remanding for failure to make findings on the Dahlberg factors in denying a temporary injunction); Lawver v. Lawver, 360 N.W.2d 471, 472-73 (Minn. App. 1985) (remanding for findings on statutory factors for determining childís best interests in custody case). In particular, findings are required to explain decisions when broad exercises of discretion are involved.† Ensco Intíl, Inc. v. Blegen, 410 N.W.2d 11, 13 (Minn. App. 1987).
Further, L-tryptophan suggests that findings on the factors for allocating attorney fees are required.† When this court adopted the eight-factor test for allocating attorney fees, it relied on La Mantia v. Durst, 561 A.2d 275, 278 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1989).† L-tryptophan, 518 N.W.2d at 620-21.† The L-tryptophan decision quoted extensively from La Mantia, including a passage that stated the district court should, in allocating attorney fees, develop a record and make findings of fact to assure that the factors have been considered.† L-tryptophan, 518 N.W.2d at 621.
Here, the district court order stated that based upon the records, files, proceedings, and the factors cited in Ashford, respondent was entitled to 64% of the contingency fee and appellant was entitled to the remainder.† No further findings were made.† Without more particular findings, we cannot determine if the district court appropriately applied the factors or whether the court abused its discretion in reaching its ultimate conclusion.† See National Union Fire Ins. Co. v. Evenson, 439 N.W.2d 394, 398 (Minn. App. 1989) (stating that factual findings are necessary for meaningful appellate review), review denied (Minn. July 12, 1989).† Therefore we reverse and remand for findings in such proceedings as the district court deems appropriate.
Reversed and remanded.
*† Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, ß 10.