updated 10/16/2007 2:11:24 PM ET 2007-10-16T18:11:24

A man who claims he received 47 unneeded jolts from his implanted defibrillator is suing Medtronic over the broken wires the company is recalling.

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Plaintiffs Leonard Stavish and Kelly Luisi seek class-action status in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis as representatives of people they say were hurt.

The lawsuit's allegations include emotional distress and negligence, and it seeks restitution, disgorgement of profits, and punitive damages.

Medtronic Inc., maker of pacemakers and other heart devices, has acknowledged that wires connecting its implantable defibrillators to patient hearts break more often than it expected. It said five deaths may be linked to the broken wires. Medtronic said some 235,000 people have the Sprint Fidelis lead wires.

Medtronic spokesman Rob Clark did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Attorneys for Stavish claim his defibrillator had to be removed because he got 47 jolts he didn't need. They said the device was replaced with another defibrillator and a new set of Sprint Fidelis wires.

The lawsuit also said Luisi went to the emergency room after experiencing "frightening episodes of unnecessary shocks." At the hospital, Luisi's defibrillator "began delivering unnecessary shocks over and over again," after someone from Minneapolis-based Medtronic used an instrument to check her device, according to the lawsuit. The lead was removed a month later.

Removing the leads can be dangerous because it may tear at scar tissue that builds up around the wires. The lawsuit said Luisi was forced to have her lead removed, "scarring her already fragile heart, and forcing her to undergo additional and unnecessary complicated surgery."

Carol Levenson, an analyst at Gimme Credit, wrote in a note on Tuesday that a 2005 Medtronic recall over defibrillator battery failures, which Levenson said was less severe than the new one, brought more than 1,000 personal injury cases.

"We would expect the litigation floodgates to open over the current recall as well," she wrote.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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