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Las Cruces case regarding improper pacemaker implant goes to jury

LAS CRUCES >> Jurors on Friday heard closing arguments in a civil trial based on accusations that a German company conspired with a doctor in 2007 to unnecessarily implant a pacemaker in a man's chest.

The suit, filed by Tommy and Barbara Sowards of Las Cruces, states that a doctor teamed with Biotronik, an international biomedical firm, to artificially boost sales and line the doctor's pockets by pushing pacemakers on patients that didn't need them.

The Sowards' attorney, Randi McGinn, called the alleged actions a "betrayal of trust" in 3rd Judicial District Court in Las Cruces and asked the jury to award the couple more than $5 million in compensatory damages. She also asked for an unspecified amount of punitive damages, noting Biotronik has made more than $1 billion in profits.

Attorneys for Biotronik and the salesman named in the suit, Edward Tague, have denied the allegations.

Biotronik attorney Joseph Cervantes, who also a state senator from Las Cruces, said the Sowards' attorneys have "twisted and manipulated facts."

Cervantes and another attorney for Biotronik, Benjamin Silva, said there was no evidence of illegal kickbacks or conspiracy.

They added that Tommy Sowards never asked to have the pacemaker removed.

The trial went on three weeks and Friday's closing arguments lasted until the late afternoon.

The physician, Dr. Demothenis Klonis, and hospital, MountainView Regional Medical Center are no longer part of the suit.

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