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Lawsuit Filed After Little League Declares Everlasting Closure

Families file a lawsuit against Portage Little League.

It’s been an upsetting year complete with many closures of long-time public favorites, especially in the service industry.  Sports have also been impacted across the nation, with many teams deciding not to pick up again.  One community, especially, was shook by the announcement of the discontinuation of Little League ball after six decades.

Christopher Leitz and Sammie Maletta filed a lawsuit against Portage Little League, alleging they paid 2020 fees for their children play, and when the season was canceled, were told half of this would be applied to the 2021 season.  Then, in a surprise twist, the league decided to disband altogether after 60 years.  The announcement came on social media, reading, “Due to the continued lack of volunteer participation we have made the decision to disband Portage Little League in its entirety.” The Facebook post adds that families still can participate in Little League, referring them to Little League District 1 Administrator Rich Arndt.

Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

The lawsuit, brought by Portage-based attorney Ken Elwood on behalf of the parents, reads, “For over 60 years, Little League Baseball has been the hallmark of our summers.  We have welcomed countless people to our community and have shown them the charm, hospitality and generosity that makes us all proud to call Portage our home.”  However, “there would be no 2021 season and announced its decision to disband the entire league.  The Defendant has not provided the 50% out-of-pocket cost to Plaintiff from the 2020 season.”

“When they posted on Facebook that they were failing, that was the first anyone knew about it,” Elwood explained. “Everybody was really upset.”

Arndt, the City of Portage Little League and Little League Baseball Incorporated are all named as plaintiffs, and filing is alleging “conversion and negligence.”  It seeks reimbursement of the fees and the appointment of a receiver.

Athletes in Riverside County, California, are also filing suit in an attempt to lift a ban on local sports.  The lawsuit argues “young athletes aren’t at a greater risk of contracting coronavirus than adult athletes,” and hopes to use data from the medical community to persuade the court.

“Looking at the law, it’s really a violation of the kids equal protection rights, and so we decided it’s worth putting it in front of a judge and let him or her decide if we’re right,” said attorney Stephen Gribney, who explained that the judge previously ruled all sports can resume within San Diego with specific safety protocols. “The court said yes, if you follow all of these excepted guidelines that were published by the state you may play safely.  I was a little surprised the state didn’t put more in by way of opposition from a medical science standpoint, I’m not sure they could.”

Locally, Dr. Euthym Kontaxis with Eisnehower Health agrees with Grbiney, saying, “Transmission among youth is much less than adults, 10 percent of cases are between the ages of 5 and 17.  I think with good information and careful observation we can do it…Making sure we do the proper social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing, respiratory etiquette” will keep everyone safe.

Sources:

Portage attorney files suit to stop Little League consolidation in city

Portage Little League calls it quits after 60 years; slapped with lawsuit

New lawsuit aims to bring back all youth sports in Riverside County

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