Whitefoot v. Hanover Ins. Co.

Decision Date23 March 1977
Docket NumberNo. 4579,4579
Citation561 P.2d 717
PartiesHarold D. WHITEFOOT, Administrator of the Estate of Lyle E. Salisbury, Deceased, Appellant (Plaintiff below), v. HANOVER INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellee (Defendant below).
CourtWyoming Supreme Court

Walter C. Urbigkit, J., Urbigkit, Halle, Mackey & Whitehead, Cheyenne, for appellant.

James O. Wilson and John B. Robers, Loomis, Lazear, Wilson & Pickett, Cheyenne, for appellee.

Before GUTHRIE, C. J., THOMAS and ROSE, JJ., BENTLEY, D. J., and ARMSTRONG, D. J., retired.

ROSE, Justice.

By opinion dated July 9, 1968 1, this court remanded the original decision in this case back to the trial court for reconsideration and promulgation of more definite and specific findings of fact. The supplemental findings of fact were made by the district court and a full consideration of the case by this court can now be had. A summary of the factual background will prove helpful.

In 1958, Lyle E. Salisbury was adjudged incompetent and committed to the Wyoming State Hospital. His wife, Olive Salisbury, was appointed guardian of his estate. The surety on the guardian's bond was Hanover Insurance Company. Following Salisbury's release in 1961, he brought suit against the bonding company for funds alleged to have been appropriated from his estate by his guardian. Olive Salisbury was not a party to that suit.

After suit was brought against the bonding company, an inventory and appraisement was filed by Olive Salisbury. She also filed a first and final report of guardian. Salisbury filed objections to the guardian's report. The hearing on Salisbury's objections in the estate proceedings was consolidated for trial with his suit against Hanover Insurance Company. Trial of both matters was had to the District Court of Laramie County without a jury. The court gave judgment for defendant, the bonding company, in the suit against it. A judgment was also entered in the estate proceedings with findings against Salisbury's objections. In this judgment, the final report of the guardian was approved and the guardian and her bondsman were discharged. Salisbury appealed both judgments.

On appeal, this court ruled that more definite and specific findings of fact were needed before proper review of the trial court's decision could be made. Salisbury, supra, at 443 P.2d, page 138. The case was remanded to the district court where it ebbed and flowed in the backwaters of judicial administration until June of 1975, at which time the district court issued an order and judgment reaffirming its prior judgment and providing supplemental findings of fact as requested by this court. During this period, Lyle Salisbury had died, and Harold D. Whitefoot, administrator of his estate, was substituted as plaintiff.

Appellant Whitefoot's appeal of the district court's reaffirming order and supplemental findings of fact involved three issues: (1) responsiveness of the supplemental findings of fact to this court's previous opinion; (2) legal sufficiency of the supplemental findings of fact to support the trial court's judgment; and (3) duty of spouse of ward (incompetent) to contribute to the support of children (family).


In our prior opinion remanding this case to the district court for improved findings of fact, five specific areas of clarification were set out: (1) identification of the items of receipts in the findings of fact; (2) allocation of the respective shares of assets between the guardian and the ward; (3) development of specific findings of fact relative to the estate's obligations and payments, with particular reference to the auto expenses and notes to the Stockgrowers Bank and Cheyenne Federal Savings and Loan; (4) presentation of findings of fact relating to the support and maintenance of the family and restaurant business; and (5) reconcile the findings of fact with the evidence.

A thorough review of the supplemental findings of fact indicates the needed specificity and detail have been provided. The initial asset items and receipts of the guardianship have been specifically identified and allocation made between the estate of the guardian and that of the ward. Payments to the Stockgrowers Bank (now First National Bank and Trust Company) and Cheyenne Federal Savings and Loan on their respective notes, as obligations of the restaurant business, were divided equally between the guardian and ward as suggested in our prior opinion. The automobile expenses have been discarded by the district court and not charged to the ward because of the difficulty in reconciling the expenditures with the evidence available. And finally, the specific details concerning the income of the restaurant as a partnership and the support and maintenance of the ward's children have been fully set forth. A reconciliation of the findings of fact with the evidence presented is more closely tied to the second issue presented here and is covered by the discussion which follows.


The findings of fact as originally submitted by the trial court resulted from a written request of counsel made prior to trial pursuant to Rule 52(a), W.R.C.P., and it is within the confines of this rule that the legal sufficiency of the revised findings must be tested. As there is no Wyoming case law specifically discussing this point, we will turn to federal case law construing the similar federal rule, Rule 52(a), F.R.C.P. Under Rule 52(a), F.R.C.P., and thus Rule 52(a), W.R.C.P., as well, the requested findings need not be set forth in elaborate detail but need only be clear, specific and complete in concise language informing the appellate court of the underlying bases for the trial court's decision. Penn v. San Juan Hospital, Inc., 10 Cir. (1975), 528 F.2d 1181; Featherstone v. Barash, 10 Cir. (1965), 345 F.2d 246; and 9 Wright and Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2579 (1971). They are to be an aid to the appellate court on appeal affording...

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21 cases
  • Ianelli v. Camino
    • United States
    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • June 27, 2019
    ...in concise language informing the appellate court of the underlying bases for the trial court’s decision. Whitefoot v. Hanover Insurance Company , 561 P.2d 717, 720 (Wyo.1977). O’s Gold Seed Co. v. United Agri-Products Fin. Servs., Inc. , 761 P.2d 673, 675-76 (Wyo. 1988). The district court......
  • Buttrey Food Stores Division v. Coulson
    • United States
    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • December 3, 1980
    ...weight of the evidence. Diamond Management Corporation v. Empire Gas Corporation, Wyo., 594 P.2d 964 (1979); Whitefoot v. Hanover Insurance Company, Wyo., 561 P.2d 717 (1977). 1 Appellant contends that in applying this standard, there was insufficient evidence to support the finding that ap......
  • Hopper v. All Pet Animal Clinic, Inc.
    • United States
    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • October 1, 1993
    ...the state and federal rules permits resort to federal precedent for aid in effectuating the intent of Rule 52(a). Whitefoot v. Hanover Ins. Co., 561 P.2d 717, 720 (Wyo.1977). Unfortunately, on appeal, the parties have misconstrued the appropriate standard of review relevant to such findings......
  • Pettengill v. Castellow
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    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • November 15, 2022
    ...court's decision." O's Gold Seed Co. v. United Agri-Products Fin. Serv. , 761 P.2d 673, 676 (Wyo. 1988) (quoting Whitefoot v. Hanover Ins. Co. , 561 P.2d 717, 720 (Wyo. 1977) ).[¶28] This Court has not given "specific requirements for Rule 52(a) findings of fact in child custody cases." Ian......
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