In the Admiralty proceeding Frescati Shipping Co. v. Citgo Asphalt Refining Co., an oil tanker within its final approach of its destination on the Delaware River struck an abandoned ship anchor. The anchor punctured the hull of the ship, allowing 263,000 gallons of crude oil to spill from it. In reviewing the trial court’s decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit employed the clearly erroneous standard of review. Using this highly deferential standard, the Third Circuit held that the trial court had failed to find facts specially and state its conclusions of law separately, requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a)(1). In the highly specialized context of Admiralty law, uniformity and consistency are especially necessary. By employing the clearly erroneous standard of review in the Admiralty context, the Third Circuit adequately served the aim of maintaining uniformity of results within a niche area of law.
A Wide Berth for FRCP 52: Application of the Clearly Erroneous Standard of Review in the Admiralty Law Context,
B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev.