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APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO [Hon. Daniel R. Dom�nguez, U.S. District Judge]

This is a maritime tort action in which plaintiff-appellant Franco Morales, a San Juan harbor pilot, appeals from a summary judgment in favor of defendant-appellee, owner of the vessel M/V Malene. Morales seeks damages for an injury occasioned by a fall as he was disembarking from the Malene and boarding the plaintiff’s pilot boat after guiding the Malene out of San Juan Harbor. The complaint alleged that defendant was negligent for failing to “make a lee,” i.e., to turn the Malene perpendicular to the waves as requested in order to minimize pitching on the leeward side of the boat from which plaintiff was disembarking. Morales also claimed that the rope ladder used to exit the Malene was not in a safe position, and that the area was not properly illuminated. On the basis of facts deemed admitted because they were not controverted by the plaintiff, and his own deposition testimony, the district court held that the sole cause of the accident was Morales’ own negligence. We affirm.

This case is a lesson in summary judgment practice. As might be expected, the various motion papers, memoranda, exhibits, affidavits, and depositions of parties, witnesses, and experts produced an appendix of two thick volumes. In such a case, the filing of a motion for summary judgment signals a formidable search for a genuine issue of material fact. If this is not to impose the daunting burden of seeking a needle in a haystack, the court needs help from counsel. Almost two decades ago, we confessed our increasing “frustration [with] the more and more typical phenomenon . . . of a district court having to decide a motion for summary judgment without the assistance the court should expect from counsel.” Stepanischen v. Merchants Despatch Transp. Corp., 722 F.2d 922, 927 (1st Cir. 1983). We encouraged district courts to adopt “anti-ferreting” rules, which warn parties opposing summary judgment that, to preclude judgment as a matter of law, they must identify factual issues buttressed by record citations. “[O]nce so warned,” we added, “a party’s failure to comply would, where appropriate, be grounds for judgment against that party.” Id. at 931.

 
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