By Marty Finley

A former Eastern volleyball player filed a lawsuit in Madison County Circuit Court this week claiming negligence on the part of her former athletic trainer, Thomas Belmaggio. In the lawsuit, Tonya Reed alleges that Belmaggio, who is now the head athletic trainer of Sports Medicine for the Marshall University Athletics Department in Huntington, W.V., caused severe burns on her legs due to the application of hot packs in an incident last March. Reed alleges in the lawsuit that she “suffered serious and permanent physical injuries” on March 20, 2007, because Belmaggio “carelessly” applied hot packs during conditioning training and did not supervise the hot packs while they were on her legs.

Michael J. Cox, Reed’s attorney, said the hot packs were hotter than the normal hot packs used by Eastern and an email was sent out before March 20 warning people to be careful in using the packs.

Exposure to the hot packs caused considerable burns and methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, infection as a result, according to the lawsuit. Cox said the packs were on her legs for several minutes, which caused both blistering and scarring. Reed has consulted a plastic surgeon in regards to the injuries, Cox said.

Reed’s lawsuit alleges that the actions of Belmaggio resulted in “past and future medical expenses; past and future mental and physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, scarring, and loss of enjoyment of life; and permanent impairment.”

Cox said Reed’s current medical expenses are about $19,000 and the plastic surgeon is expecting future medical expenses. Reed is not pursuing a specific settlement yet, Cox said, as Belmaggio will have a certain time period to respond to the lawsuit. Belmaggio could not be reached for comment.