An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Proced ure.

NO. COA02-1490


Filed: 15 July 2003


         v.                        Harnett County
                                No. 02 CVD 200

    Appeal by defendant from order entered 10 June 2002 by Judge Frank Lanier in Harnett County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 7 July 2003.

    Timothy Holcomb, pro se.

    Jesse W. Jones, pro se.

    STEELMAN, Judge.

    Defendant, Jesse W. Jones, appeals a judgment ordering him to pay plaintiff, Timothy Holcomb, the sum of $2,642.00 plus costs and interest. For the reasons discussed herein, we vacate and remand this case to the trial court.
    Defendant represented a client in a personal injury claim. Plaintiff rendered chiropractic services for the client. Defendant negotiated an $8,000 settlement of the claim. Plaintiff sought reimbursement for services he rendered and eventually brought a small claims action against defendant to enforce a claim of lien on the settlement proceeds in the amount of $2,642. A magistrate entered a judgment ordering defendant to pay plaintiff $2,642 plusinterest. Defendant appealed the magistrate's ruling to the Harnett County District Court for a trial de novo. After a hearing, the trial judge entered a judgment awarding plaintiff $2,642 plus costs and interest. Defendant appeals.
    Defendant argues that the trial court erred by not making any findings of fact to support its order pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1A-1, Rule 52(a)(1). We agree.
    This Court's standard of review of a non-jury trial is “whether there was competent evidence to support the trial court's findings of fact and whether its conclusions of law were proper in light of such facts.” Shear v. Stevens Bldg. Co., 107 N.C. App. 154, 160, 418 S.E.2d 841, 845 (1992). The North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure provide that “[i]n 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.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1A-1, Rule 52(a)(1)(2001) (Emphasis added). The purpose of Rule 52(a) is to allow the appellate courts to determine from the record whether the judgment and the legal conclusions which underlie it represent a correct application of the law. Wohlfahrt v. Schneider, 82 N.C. App. 69, 345 S.E.2d 448 (1986).
    Here, the trial court entered its order using a pre-printed form titled “ORDER (Small Claim Appeal only)”. Although the trial court checked the box, which states: “Court after hearing evidence finds the following facts:,” the trial court did not make any written findings in the space provided. “The language of Rule 52is mandatory; in nonjury actions, the trial court shall find the facts specially and state separately its conclusions of law.” Pineda-Lopez v. N.C. Growers Ass'n, 151 N.C. App. 587, 589, 566 S.E.2d 162, 164 (2002) (emphasis in original). Because the trial court's order fails to comply with Rule 52(a)(1) and does not form a basis for this Court to conduct a review, we remand this case to the trial court for entry of adequate findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 52(a)(1).
    Vacated and remanded.
    Judges WYNN and TYSON concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

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