The Jackie Robinson West Little League has filed a lawsuit against Little League’s governing body after the organization stripped the Chicago league of the national title after it was found to have used players who lived outside the league’s boundaries.
Attorney Victor Henderson filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Cook County Court in Illinois and held a news conference Wednesday.
Henderson said the lawsuit in effect is a petition designed to force Little League International to turn over all as-yet unseen information use to strip Jackie Robinson West of the title and vacate its six wins in the Little League World Series, according to CBSChicago.
The Chicago league had hired Henderson to conduct an investigation on its behalf.
Little League International stripped Jackie Robinson West of the title in February. The team’s manager was suspended from Little League activity and a district administrator was removed from his position.
Henderson said he is not contending that Jackie Robinson West didn’t have ineligible players on the field. Rather, he said that Little League failed to uphold its own rules because paperwork is supposed to be checked during the tournament and protests must be lodged while the event is ongoing, not afterward. Officials of another league complained after Jackie Robinson West had clinched the national title.
Henderson also said that Little League failed to provide information to Jackie Robinson West to explain the reason for the punishment and that Little League did not provide any specific rules violations in its decision.
He also said Jackie Robinson West was held to higher standards than other teams.
“Until Little League International establishes to us that they have, in fact, acted properly, then we are not willing to concede that these young men are not still the champions from 2014,” Henderson told news reporters. “I can’t tell you whether Little League looked at all of the paperwork for all of the teams that were [playing] in Indianapolis. I don’t know, because when I tried to sit down with them, they wouldn’t talk to me,” he said. “I don’t know if Little League reviewed all of the paperwork for all of the teams, other than Jackie Robinson West.”
In a statement, Little League International said the 152 teams in the 16 regional tournaments were subject to the same eligibility verification process.
“Little League takes all matters of eligibility seriously,” the statement said. “All 152 teams participating in the 16 Little League Baseball Regional Tournaments in 2014 underwent the same eligibility verification process. This process takes place prior to the start of each level of play of Little League International Tournament, not before every game, which was mentioned.”