Implied Findings Doctrine
What is the The Doctrine of Implied Findings?
"The doctrine of implied findings requires the appellate court to infer the trial court made all factual findings necessary to support the judgment." (Fladeboe v. American Isuzu Motors, Inc. (2007) 150 Cal.App.4th 42, 58.)
"In a bench trial, how does an appellant obtain a record affirmatively proving the trial court erred by failing to make factual findings on an issue? The appellant must secure a statement of decision under Code of Civil Procedure section 632 and, pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 634, bring any ambiguities and omissions in the statement of decision to the trial court's attention.
In In re Marriage of Arceneaux (1990) 51 Cal.3d 1130, the California Supreme Court explained:
'Sections 632 and 634 of the Code of Civil Procedure . . . set forth the means by which to avoid application of these inferences in favor of the judgment. When the court announces its tentative decision, a party may, under section 632, request the court to issue a statement of decision explaining the basis of its determination, and shall specify the issues on which the party is requesting the statement; following such a request, the party may make proposals relating to the contents of the statement. Thereafter, under section 634, the party must state any objection to the statement in order to avoid an implied finding on appeal in favor of the prevailing party.' " (Id. at pp. 58-59.)
"Securing a statement of decision is the first step, but is not necessarily enough, to avoid the doctrine of implied findings. Litigants must also bring ambiguities and omissions in the statement of decision's factual findings to the trial court's attention--or suffer the consequences. Code of Civil Procedure section 634 states if omissions or ambiguities in the statement of decision's factual findings are timely brought to the trial court's attention, 'it shall not be inferred on appeal . . . that the trial court decided in favor of the prevailing party as to those facts or on that issue.'" (Fladeboe v. American Isuzu Motors, Inc., supra, 150 Cal.App.4th at p. 59.)
"If the party challenging the statement of decision fails to bring omissions or ambiguities in it to the trial court's attention, then, under Code of Civil Procedure section 634, the appellate court will infer the trial court made implied factual findings favorable to the prevailing party on all issues necessary to support the judgment, including the omitted or ambiguously resolved issues. The appellate court then reviews the implied factual findings under the substantial evidence standard. " (Id. at pp. 59-60.)