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Coach Sues Boy in Little League Baseball; Michelle Obama, Barack Obama Speech

Aired January 16, 2014 - 11:30   ET



ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Keeping a live eye on the microphone. You can see a picture of Michelle Obama. This is summit held on students being able to attend college. A young man, by all accounts, shouldn't have made it through high school and didn't. Because of a number of programs, he's currently a full ride scholarship student sophomore at bard which is terrific. We're going to watch that. He'll introduce the first lady. The first lady will introduce the president. We'll get you to that live when it starts.

This is a weird story. A little league baseball coach has decided he's going to sue a former 14-year-old player, 14. He's suing him for $600,000 because of the way the 14-year-old celebrated a home run.

John Berman looks at the parent's reaction and what the coach wants out of this lawsuit.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): California parents are in disbelief this morning after their 14-year-old was sued by his little league coach. The offense? Throwing his helmet after the home run, hitting the coach's ankle and allegedly tearing his Achilles tendon.

JOE PARIS, FATHER: It thought it was a joke. How can this be a grown man suing a young boy.

RAEGAN PARIS, MOTHER: It was almost laughable.

BERMAN: It wasn't laughable for the coach, Alan Beck, a chiropractor who is seeking $500,000 in pain and suffering and $100,000 in lost wages.

ALAN BECK, LITTLE LEAGUE COACH: When a 6 foot 14-year-old with a large helmet hits somebody's Achilles and split it, you should be apologetic for it.

JOE PARIS: Allegedly, it hit here somewhere.

BERMAN: The boy's parents are calling foul, saying they didn't receive information about the lawsuit until six months after the alleged injury took place.

RAEGAN PARIS: I spoke with little league, several board members. They were just, what?

BERMAN: Beck coach claims the family knew about his injury and turned their backs on him when he reached out for help.

BECK: It's not about the money with this family. It's about the acknowledgment and taking responsibility for their action.

BERMAN: Some say the lawsuit is frivolous.

JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: You assume the risk if you're engaged in baseball activity. For a coach to have a legal claim against a child for something like this is, for lack of a better word, preposterous.

BERMAN: The coach says he's just looking for an apology.


BANFIELD: Our thanks to John Berman for that report.

I want to bring back CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan, and Joey Jackson, HLN legal analyst, seen in this report.

Joey, when I hear the words careless or reckless in a legal context, I think of people with grown minds who can establish what careless and reckless means. I don't think of a 14-year-old capable of understanding careless and reckless on the ball field.

JACKSON: Interestingly enough, in California, you can certainly sue a 14-year-old. That was proper. Here's the issue. Two fold, factual and legal. On the factual issue, is he claiming by throwing a helmet weighing one pound or less it severed his Achilles tendon. He was known to have coached 11 games after this. He says he went into shock and everything else. Did the ambulance respond? The factual issue is a problem for me. The legal issue is for when you're playing baseball, guess what, Ashleigh, things happen. When the contact occurs, can you say you had no idea? I believe this gets dismissed on summary judgment, which means it doesn't make it to trial.

BANFIELD: What do you think?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think Joey is right on this. When you play a sport like this, and as a coach, his job is to teach the 14-year-old about how to throw a helmet or not to throw a helmet. Now to turn around and say because the kid throws his hat in the air on a home run he's going to be sued or more specifically his parents may be liable is absolutely ridiculous. I think the courts will throw this out.

BANFIELD: Here's the deal -- at first, I thought it was nuts, just nuts he would do this. On the other side of the coin, he's a volunteer, a parent. He's got this horrible medical issue.

CALLAN: That's -- you know -- that's why we have the lawsuits. You know why we have all the lawsuit, the concept everybody is a victim. Everybody has the right to be compensated for every bad thing that happens in life. Life is tough sometimes. By the way, this coach was assuming they had a homeowner's insurance policy and some insurance company would pay.


CALLAN: They don't have a policy. Now guess what, maybe the parents lose their house.


CALLAN: Everybody is thinking, there's insurance here. Let's give the guy some money.


JACKSON: There's no pot of gold.


CALLAN: Let's take a shot and the insurance company will settle.

JACKSON: He should know better, Ashleigh. I'm disappointed in this coach.

You dedicate time for hockey, right?



JACKSON: I don't see you suing anybody. You probably take a hit or two chasing kids around?


BANFIELD: -- my friends. This is little mikes.



CALLAN: You know where this road leads? The end of little league baseball as more and more lawsuits get more and more expensive to get insurance. And that's why --


CALLAN: -- assumption of the risks.

BANFIELD: 14 years old. Does it make difference this 14-year -- I'm looking for the stats. He's like 6'1" or 6'2" and 180 pounds.

JACKSON: No, it doesn't, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Let me repeat that. A 14-year-old we think as a tiny guy, he's big guy and he could be dangerous. (CROSSTALK)

JACKSON: We're talking the helmet. We're not talking about him making any kind of connection. And this is was intent. If anything, you can argue it was recklessness. Where do we learn this from? The stars on TV. They hit the home run, slide and win, they throw their helmets. That's what this kid did. What's wrong with that?


JACKSON: Support our kids. Support our communities. This guy is wrong.


BANFIELD: We'll leave that one there. We'll see how this goes. We'll see if this does in fact get tossed out.

I'm watching this box on the right-hand side of the screen. I don't want to miss the first play. Are we going to live to that or go to a break before hand?

We're going to go live in because the first lady is being introduced as we speak. Let's get the live image up and let's hear from Michelle Obama.



MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITE STATES: Good morning. Thank you everyone. Thank you so much. Thank you.


MICHELLE OBAMA: You guys rest yourselves. Thank you so much. It is really great to be here today with all of you.

We have with us today college and university presidents, experts and advocates and civic and business leaders. I want to thank all of you for taking the time to be here today and for working everyday to help young people pursue their education and build brighter futures for themselves and our country. I'd also like us to give a really big hand to Troy for sharing that story.


That's pretty powerful stuff and presented so eloquently. Yesterday I met Troy, and he was nervous. I don't know why you were nervous. You're pretty awe -- pretty awesome.

TROY: Thank you.

MICHELLE OBAMA: Troy's story lies within all of our young people no matter where they come from or how much money they have. Troy's story is why we should care deeply about this issue. Troy and others are why I care deeply about this issue. Troy and others are why I care so much about this issue and why in the coming years I'm going to spend more and more of my time focusing on education. As everyone here knows education is the key to success for so many kids.

My goal specifically is to reach out directly to young people and encourage them to take charge of their futures and complete an education beyond high school. I'm doing this because so often when we talk about education we talk about our young people and what we need to do for them. We talk about the programs we need to create for them, the resources we need to devote to them.

We must remember that education is a two way bargain. While there is so much more we must do for our kids, at the end of the day, as Troy described the person who has the most say over whether or not a student succeeds is the student him or herself. Ultimately they are the ones sitting in that classroom, ones that have to set goals for themselves and work hard to achieve those goals every single day. My hope is with this new effort, instead of talking about our kids, we talk with our kids. I want to hear what's going on in their lives.

I want to inspire them to step up and commit to education so they can have opportunities they never dreamed of. I'm doing this because that story of opportunity through education is the story of my life. I want them to know that it can be their story too. Only, only if they devote themselves to continuing their education past high school. For many student, that might mean attending a college or university like the ones you represent.

For others, it might mean choosing a community college, pursuing short term professional training. No matter what they do, I want to make sure students believe they have what it takes to succeed beyond high school. That's going to be my message to young people.

But here's the thing. I know that message alone isn't enough. Like I said, this is a two way street. That means we all have to step up because make no mistake about it, these kids are smart. They will notice if we're not holding up our end of the bargain. They will notice if we tell them about applying for college or financial aid but then no one is there to help them choose the right school or fill out the right forms.

They will notice if we tell them that they're good enough to graduate from college but then no college asks them to apply. No college invites them to visit their campus. So we've got to recommit ourselves to helping these kids pursue their education. As you discussed in your first panel today, one of the first steps is getting more underserved young people onto college campuses.

The fact is that right now we are missing out on so much potential because so many promising young people like Troy who have the talent it takes to succeed simply don't believe college can be a realty to them. Too many are falling through the cracks. All of you know that all too well.

That's why so many of you are finding new ways to reach out to the underserved students in your communities. You're helping them navigate the financial aid and college admissions process and helping them find schools that match their abilities and interests. I know from my own experience just how important all of that work is that you're doing.

See, the truth is that if Princeton hadn't found my brother as a basketball recruit, and if I hadn't seen that he could succeed on a campus like that, never would have occurred to me to apply to that school, never. I know there are so many kids out there like me. Kids who have a world of potential, but maybe their parents never went to college, or maybe they've never been encouraged to believe they could succeed there. That means it's our job to find those kids. It's our job to help them understand their potential and get them enrolled in a college that can help them meet their needs. Get them enrolled in a college. That's not always easy, especially given what many kids are dealing with when they get to campus. Just think about it.

You heard a snip from Troy. Just to make it to college, these kids have already overcome so much. Neighborhoods riddled with crime and drugs, moms and dads who weren't around. Too many nights they had to go to bed hungry. As I tell these kids when I talk to them, we can't think about those experiences that they've had as weaknesses, just the opposite.

They're actually strengths. These kids have developed skills like grit and resilience that many of their peers will never be able to compete with, never. When they get out in the world, those are the exact skills they will need to succeed. They will succeed. Imagine how hard it is to realize that when you first get to college. You're in a whole new world. You might have trouble making friends because you don't see peers that come from a background like yours. You may be worried about paying for classes, food and room and board because you have never set your budget before. You may be feeling guilty when you call home because mom and dad are wondering why you didn't get a job to help support their family. Those are obstacles kidding are facing from day one.

Let's be clear. All of that isn't just a challenge for them. It's a challenge for folks like us committed to helping them succeed. Make no mistake, that's our mission. Not raising money or hosting conferences but to take real meaningful action to help our young people get into college and more importantly get their actual degree.

Here's the good news, time and again you have all shown you have the experience, passion, and the resources to help these young people thrive. For example, in recent decades you've realized students from across the socioeconomic spectrum are coming to campus with issues like eating disorders, learning disabilities, challenges like depression and anxiety and much more.

Luckily, you have not shied away from these issues. I've seen it, worked at a university. You haven't said these aren't our problems. No, you've stepped up. While there's still work left to do on these issues, you're working everyday to support kids through treatment programs, outreach initiatives and support groups. You know these issues have a huge impact on whether students can learn and succeed at your school. So now as you begin to see more and more underserved students on your campuses, we need you to direct that same energy and determination toward helping these kids face their unique challenges.

Now fortunately you've already got the expertise you need to address these issues. Simply by building on by what you're already doing best, you can make real differences for these kids. That's what so many are doing with commitments made at this summit. For example, every school offers financial aid services.

Listen what University of Minnesota is doing. They're committing to expand to include financial literacy programs to help students and their families manage the cost of college. Every school has advisors who desperately want students to succeed. Oregon Tech is committing to set up a text message program so advisors can connect more easily with students who need extra encouragement or academic support.

Every college has orientation programs or learning communities to help students transition to college. Many schools here today are supplementing those programs by partnering with organizations like the posse foundation so that underserved students can connect and build a social network before they even step foot on campus. Those were the types of resources that helped a kid like me, not just survive, but thrive at a school like Princeton.

When I first arrived at school, I didn't know anyone on right buildings. I didn't even bring the right size sheets for my dorm room bed. I didn't realize those beds were so long. So I was a little overwhelmed and a little isolated. But then I had an opportunity to participate in a three-week on campus orientation program that helped me get the feel for the rhythm of college life.

And once school started I discovered the campus cultural center, the third world center, where I found students and staff who came from families and communities that were similar to my own. And they understood what was going through. They were there to listen when I was feeling frustrated. They were there to answer the questions I was too embarrassed to ask anyone else. And if it weren't for those resources, and the friends, and the mentors, I honestly don't know how I would have made it through college. But instead I graduated at the top of my class, I went to law school. And you know the rest.

So whether it's aligning with an organization like posse or offering a new advising or mentoring program or creating a central space where students can connect with one another, you all can take simple steps that can determine whether these kids give up and drop out or step up and thrive.

And that's not just good for these young people, it's good for your schools because if you embrace and empower these students and if you make sure they have good campus experiences, then they're going to stay engaged with your school for decades after they graduate. They will be dressed up in school colors at homecoming games. They'll be asking to serve on your committees and advisory boards.

And they'll be doing their part when fundraising season rolls around. So believe me, these will be some of the best alumni you could possibly ask for. Because after everything these kids will have overcome to get into college and get through college, believe me, they will have all the skills they need to run our businesses and our labs and to teach in our classrooms and to lead our communities.

Just look at me and look at Troy and the countless success stories from the organizations and schools represented here in this room. That's how we will win, this country. We will win by tapping the full potential of all of our young people so that we can grow our economy and move this country forward. Let me tell you that is something that my husband understands deeply because his life story, just like mine, is rooted in education as well. And as president that is what drives him every single day. His goal of expanding opportunity to millions of Americans who are striving to build better futures for themselves, for their families and for our country as well.

So now it is my pleasure to introduce my husband, the president of the United States, Barack Obama.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Thank you everybody. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Everybody please have a seat. Have a seat. Welcome to the White House, everybody.

And let me begin by thanking Troy and sharing his remarkable story. I could not be more inspired by, you know, what he's accomplished and can't wait to see what he's going to accomplish in the future. My wife -- it's hard to speak after her.


We're in the back and Gene Sperling who did extraordinary work putting this summit together said everybody's so excited that Michelle's here. I said, well, what about me? But you should be excited her being here because she brings a passion and a body of experience and a passion to this issue that is extraordinary. And I couldn't be prouder of the work she's already done and the work I know she's going to keep on doing around these issues. She did leave one thing out of her speech, and that is it's her birthday tomorrow. So I want everybody to --


BARACK OBAMA: -- just keep that in mind. Now, we are here for one purpose, we want to make sure more young people have the chance to earn a higher education. And in the 21st century economy we all understand it's never been more important. The good news is that our economy is steadily growing and strengthening after the worst recession in a generation.

So we've created more than 8 million new jobs, manufacturing is growing led by a booming auto industry. Thanks to some key public investments in advances like affordable energy and, you know, research and development, what we've seen is not only an energy revolution in this country that bodes well for our future, but in areas like health care for example we've slowed the growth of health care costs in ways that a lot of people wouldn't have anticipated as recently as five or 10 years ago. So there are a lot of good things going on in the economy. And businesses are starting to invest. In fact, what we're seeing are businesses overseas starting to say instead of outsourcing let's source back into the U.S. All that bodes well for our future.

Here's the thing though, we don't grow just for the sake of growth. We grow so that it translates into a growing middle class, people getting jobs, people being able to support their families and people being able to pass something on to the next generation. We want to restore the essential promise of opportunity and upward mobility that's at the heart of America. The notion that if you work hard, you can get ahead. You can improve your situation in life.

You can make something of yourself. That the same essential story Troy so eloquently told about himself. And the fact is it's been getting harder to do that for a lot of people. It is harder for folks to start in one place and move up that ladder. And that was true long before the recession hit. And that's why I've said that in 2014 we have to consider this a year of action, not just to grow the economy, not just to increase GDP, not just to make sure that corporations are profitable and the stock market's doing well and the financial system is stable.

We've also got to make sure that that growth is broad based and everybody has a chance to access that growth and take advantage of it. We've got to make sure that we're creating new jobs and that the wages and benefits that go along with those jobs can support a family. We have to make sure that there are new ladders of opportunity in the middle class and that those ladders, the rungs on those ladders are solid and accessible for more people.

Now, I'm going to be working with Congress where I can to accomplish this. But I'm also going to act on my own if Congress is deadlocked. I've got a pen to take executive actions where Congress won't. And I've got a telephone to rally folks around the country on this mission. And today is a great example of how without a whole bunch of new legislation we can advance this agenda. We've got philanthropists and business leaders here.

We've got leaders of innovative non for profits, we've got college presidents from state universities and historically black colleges to Ivy League universities and community colleges. And today more than 100 colleges and 40 organizations are announcing new commitments to help more young people not only go to but graduate from college.

And that's an extraordinary accomplishment. And we didn't pass a bill to do it. Everybody here is participating, I believe, because you know that college graduation has never been more valuable than it is today. Unemployment for Americans with a college degree is more than a third lower than the national average, incomes twice as high as those without a high school diploma.

College is not the only path to success. We've got to make sure that more Americans of all age are getting the skills that they need to access the jobs that are out there right now. But more than ever a college degree is the surest path to a stable middle class life. And higher education speaks to something more than that. The premise that we're all created equal is the opening line in our American story, and we don't promise equal outcomes. We strive to deliver equal opportunity. The idea that success does not depend on being born in a wealth of privilege, depends on effort and merit.