A lawsuit filed Monday against Little League Baseball International alleges the organization engaged in a cover-up after the 2014 U.S. Champion Jackie Robinson West team was accused of cheating by using players from outside approved league boundaries.
Chris Janes, a Little League coach in southwest suburban Evergreen Park, filed the suit Monday in U.S. District Court.
Janes alleges that, after the 2014 Little League World Series concluded, he approached the Little League vice president of operations, Patrick Wilson, and told him that he had evidence of JRW’s impropriety — specifically, that several JRW players lived outside approved league boundaries.
The suit further stated Wilson discouraged Janes from bringing a formal complaint against JRW.
“Despite this knowledge, [Little League] initiated a public cover-up campaign to harm Plaintiff Janes [and] announced on December 16, 2014 that Janes claim had no merit,” the suit stated. “Subsequently, Janes and his family were subjected to public humiliation, death threats and fear for their lives.”
Three months later, the suit states, the organization “changed its opinion” and found JRW and its administrator falsified a boundary map to place players on the team “who did not qualify to play because they lived outside the team’s boundaries.”
Janes alleges intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. He is seeking more than $75,000 in damages. A spokesman for Little League did not respond to request for comment.
Jackie Robinson West won the 2014 U.S. Championship before being defeated by the South Korea team in the World Championship.
A pep rally featuring several higher-ups from the Cubs and White Sox was held at Millennium Park for the team, which also visited President Barack Obama at the White House. The team also took in more than $300,000 in donations.
Eventually, the team was stripped of its U.S. Championship and no longer operates within Little League, but the Babe Ruth/Cal Ripken League instead.
Earlier this year, parents of Jackie Robinson West players filed a lawsuit claiming that Little League officials should have figured out the residency problems existed before the team became a national phenomenon, and that JRW Treasurer Bill Haley submitted false documents to league officials after complaints from coaches of one of JRW’s early round opponents prompted an investigation.
The lawsuit stated Little League officials should have ignored a complaint filed by Janes and other coaches from Evergreen Park in December 2014 — months after JRW lost the international championship game to South Korea — because league rules stipulated that Evergreen Park had to make their challenge before JRW played their next game.