June 25, 2019
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Maine soccer coach loses lawsuit over eye surgery

Staff photo/Kevin Sjoberg | BDN
Staff photo/Kevin Sjoberg | BDN
Ashland girls' varsity soccer coach Pete Belskis watches his team in action in September 2016 along with his assistant, Holly Chasse.

A Penobscot County jury on Friday deliberated just 10 minutes before ruling against Ashland’s award-winning girls soccer coach in his medical malpractice lawsuit against a Bangor eye doctor.

Peter Belskis of Ashland sued Dr. Curt Young of Bangor in Penobscot County Superior Court in 2014, about 2½ years after Young performed cataract surgery on Belskis’ left eye.

Attorneys for Belskis claimed that Young failed to dilate the coach’s eye in a follow-up visit on June 15, 2011, so he could not see that the coach was experiencing complications from the surgery. By July 2 of that year, Belskis’ retina had become detached. Because of that, Belskis underwent a successful surgical procedure in Portland on July 7, 2011, to repair his retina.

Belskis can still drive and coach soccer, but he does not see as well as he did before his retina became detached, his attorney, David Kreisler, said. Due to his diminished eyesight, Belskis had to quit coaching basketball and now relies more heavily on his assistant soccer coach Holly Chasse to know what is happening on the field during games.

In his closing argument, the coach’s attorney asked the jury of five men and four women to award Belskis medical expenses, as well as damages, but did not suggest a dollar amount.

“You must consider how impacted Peter’s life has been,” Kreisler said.

But Young’s attorney, Mark Lavoie of Portland, told jurors Friday that the coach’s eye was dilated at the follow-up appointment, according to a notation on Belskis’ chart. The coach also signed a consent form containing a warning that a detached retina was a possible side effect of cataract surgery.

Lavoie said that Belskis’ sight in his left eye now is 20/40, good enough for him to pass the eye test to obtain a driver’s license.

“This gentleman got a good result,” Lavoie said of Belskis. “This is a guy who continues to this day to coach and to umpire games. If his sight was that bad, somebody would have fired him by now.”

Belskis was “disappointed” but “appreciated the opportunity to tell his story,” Kreisler said after the verdict.

In December, Belskis was named New England high school girls soccer coach of the year in the small school division by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

Under Belskis, the Hornets went 14-0 during the regular season last year and won the state championship. The Hornets’ record this season is nine wins and no losses.

 



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