Trace McSorley testifies for James Franklin in former team doctor's lawsuit

Former Penn State football team doctor Dr. Scott Lynch has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the school's medical facilities which alleges that James Franklin overstepped on medical decisions which ultimately led to the doctor's firing. Trace McSorley testified for the defense and Saquon Barkley is expected to do the same.
Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin celebrates with quarterback Trace McSorley (9)
Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin celebrates with quarterback Trace McSorley (9) / Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, in the Dauphin County Courthouse, former Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley testified for his former coach James Franklin in a lawsuit levied against him by a former team doctor. 

In 2014, Franklin’s first year on the job in Happy Valley, Dr. Pete Seidenburg was the primary care doctor for Penn State football. He alleged, in a civil trial, that Franklin and then-athletic director Sandy Barbour pressured him to medically disqualify a player who had attempted suicide in order to open up a scholarship spot on the roster. The player has not been identified in the case. 

Seidenberg did not disqualify the player and former athletic director of medicine at Penn State Dr. Scott Lynch, who filed the suit, alleges that his unwillingness to acquiesce to Franklin’s wishes played a role in his 2019 termination. Seidenberg has included other instances in which he perceived Franklin as overstepping on medical decisions, namely rushing players back onto the field. 

Enter Trace McSorley, who was brought into the case because of a foot injury suffered during the 2019 Citrus Bowl, his final game as the quarterback of the Nittany Lions. McSorley was removed from the game and prior testimony in the case stated that Lynch’s in-game assessment concluded that McSorley may have had a broken bone in his foot. 

McSorley ultimately returned to the game after lobbying for re-evaluation by the medical staff and after the game, it was confirmed that his foot was not broken. 

In testimony obtained by John Luciew of McSorley said, “I lobbied for myself to go back out and try to win that game.” Of Franklin’s involvement in the medical proceedings, McSorley stated, “His first inclination was to see how I’m doing.” McSorley added that he never felt any pressure from Franklin on the foot injury or any other injury sustained throughout his four-year Penn State career. 

McSorley’s testimony began with him being questioned about his reasons for testifying for the defense and eventually even delved into his relationship with a member of the Penn State Board of Trustees. 

McSorley isn’t the only high-profile former member of the Nittany Lions who will testify in the case. Saquon Barkley is expected to appear in court, testifying for the defense. 

Lynch’s lawsuit was originally filed after his dismissal in 2019 and was revised in 2021. The suit is directed at Penn State’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Dr. Kevin Black, who ultimately dismissed Lynch. Franklin was removed as a defendant in 2020 due to the statute of limitations.

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