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Jackie Robinson West Parents and Coach File Suit Against Little League, Stephen A. Smith

The suit alleges the Little League did not follow its own rules.
February 12, 2016, 12:14am

The parents and former coach of the Jackie Robinson West little league team have sued several entities and individuals arising out of the controversial stripping of their 2014 Little League World Series title. Among the defendants are Little League Baseball, Incorporated, Jackie Robinson West Little League, Incorporated, Jackie Robinson West coach and president Bill Haley, Chris Janes (the defeated coach who began the protest), ESPN, and Stephen A. Smith.


The parents and former coach Darold Butler are seeking money damages arising out of pain and suffering, lost prospective economic benefits, unjust enrichment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and invasion of privacy. They are also seeking to have the World Series title reinstated.

Essentially, the suit alleges that Bill Haley and the higher ups at Little League Baseball, Inc. were well aware of the potential residency issues for two players on the team, but either were unconcerned with them or actively covered them up. The suit alleges that, under the rules, the team provided all the residency documentation for every player on the team as required, and it was the responsibility of Haley and others to ensure they fit within the proscribed geographical area.

The suit further alleges that, as early as September 9, 2014, Jackie Robinson West Little League, Inc. and Haley were aware of the potential issues. This was before Little League Baseball orchestrated a team visit to the White House to meet President Obama. The parents claim JRWLL never investigated these issues and concealed it for their own profit. They allege Little League only stripped Jackie Robinson West of the title after Chris Janes' complaint.

Further, according to the suit, Little League, Inc. failed to follow its own rules and procedures in so doing. Under the rules, if a violation is suspected, a protest must be lodged before either team plays another game, at which point the tournament committee will make a ruling. The parents allege no protest was ever made during the tournament and League officials acted unilaterally after Janes's grievance was filed, without a committee ever deciding the matter.


Stephen A. Smith and ESPN, as his employer, is also accused of defamation. Specifically, the suit points to his statement that the coach's picture should be shown on the First Take screen like "the mugshot it deserves to be treated like"—as well as his accusations that the parents falsified documents.

You can read the entire suit below.

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Jackie Robinson West Lawsuit 1/11/16 by DNAinfo Chicago