Lawsuit involving Penn State doctor against James Franklin declared a mistrial

March 12, 2024 / Athletic AdministrationCoachingFootball
A lawsuit involving a former Penn State doctor that brought forward allegations against head coach James Franklin was declared a mistrial this week.

Dr. Scott Lynch began the lawsuit in August 2019, shortly after being let go from his position as football team orthopedic physician and director of athletic medicine at Penn State.

penn stateAccording to a revised complaint filed in 2021, on “multiple and repeated occasions, Coach James Franklin attempted to interfere with the plaintiff’s autonomous authority to determine medical management and return-to-play decisions related to student-athletes.”

A recent report from ESPN detailed the lawsuit. Below is an excerpt from the ESPN story.

Dauphin County Court Judge Andrew Dowling set a new trial date of May 20. An attorney for Penn State Health said during opening arguments that Franklin and Penn State University had been dropped as defendants in the case, a statement Lynch’s attorney said would be prejudicial to the jury.

“The medical profession’s duty is to the patient, not to help a coach win games and/or keep their job,” Lynch told ESPN. “When a coach tries to insert themselves into the patient’s risk/benefit equation, it is wrong, and it must not be tolerated. There needs to be independent oversight of medical care.”

“I am hoping that my case can be a catalyst for the rest of the country.”

Officials with Penn State and with the university system’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, where Lynch is still employed as an orthopedic surgeon and director of sports medicine, have denied any claims of retaliation. They say that Lynch — who commuted from his home about 100 miles away in Hershey, Pennsylvania — was removed so the school could hire a physician who lived in the State College community.

A spokesperson for Penn State did not address the allegations about Franklin’s behavior but said in a statement emailed to ESPN on Friday, “Student-athlete health, safety, and wellness is a top priority for the University and Coach Franklin, and Penn State is proud of the professionals in Penn State Athletics and throughout the University dedicated to these substantial efforts.”

Lynch’s attorney, Steve Marino, said he was not planning to call Franklin or any athletes to testify but would rely on the testimony of other sports medicine personnel. Former Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney is also on the list of potential witnesses.

Marino and Lynch, in prior interviews, have declined to offer examples of what they’ve said are Franklin’s attempts at interference but said those would likely come out at trial.

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To read the full story from ESPN about Penn State, click here.