Zantac Plaintiffs Have Green Light To Pursue Claims In Special California Court Proceeding

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The Backstory:

  • Over 1,000 individuals have filed Zantac cancer lawsuits. 
  • Plaintiffs allege the heartburn medication’s active ingredient—ranitidine—caused them to develop cancer. 
  • Testing by the FDA and third-party companies have revealed that ranitidine (Zantac) contains a carcinogenic contaminant, NDMA.
  • Levels of NDMA in Zantac are many times higher than the allowable limit set forth by the FDA. NDMA levels increase when the drug is stored above room temperature and the longer the drug sits unused.  
  • NDMA contamination in Zantac doesn’t stem from manufacturing processes like other drugs with ranitidine such as Valsartan. Rather, the contamination seems to be a result of the chemical nature of the drug itself. 
  • On April 1, 2020, the FDA requested the removal of all ranitidine (Zantac) products from the market. 
  • In February 2020, pending Zantac lawsuits were consolidated in a single federal multidistrict litigation proceeding in Florida, presided over by Judge Robin L. Rosenberg.

As attorneys with the firm Miller & Zois, who are representing Zantac plaintiffs put it, the 1,000-plus Zantac cancer claims filed in California courts are the “tip of a gigantic mass-tort iceberg.” Indeed, more than 70,000 individual cases are registered under Judge Rosenberg’s MDL. 

Due to the ubiquity of the drug before the 2020 recall, millions of people took the over-the-counter heartburn medication. 

According to a press release by another law firm handling Zantac litigation—Baum Hedlund Associates—those who have already filed Zantac lawsuit can pursue their claims in California state court, under a newly-established Judicial Council Coordinated Proceedings (JCCP). 

Similar to multidistrict litigation, the California Zantac JCCP is the largest of its kind at the state level in the nation. 

Baum Hedlund, along with Moore Law Group, have been appointed to serve in the JCCP as lead plaintiff representation.  

Overseeing the judicial proceedings of the Zantac California JCCP will be Judge Winifred Y. Smith, who presided over the two California state Roundup cancer cases against Monsanto, both of which resulted in rulings for the plaintiffs, Dewayne “Lee” Johnson in the first trial, and Alva and Alberta Pilliod

In the second. (Johnson was originally awarded $289 million; the Pilliod’s combined damage award exceeded $2 billion. Both awards were later reduced but the judgements against Monsanto were affirmed.) 

Attorneys from Baum Hedlund and Moore Law Group were involved in the three Roundup trials to have gone to trial (a third case was tried at the federal level) as well as the formation of the Zantac MDL in Florida. 

Brent Wisner with Baum Hedlund predicts that the compensation awards from Zantac litigation will “dwarf” what the firm won in Roundup litigation. 

The JCCP brings Zantac litigation “one step closer to trial,” Wisner added. Before Zantac plaintiffs may see their day in court, however, plaintiff’s attorneys will do the following: present the position of the plaintiffs in all pretrial matters; propose agenda items for case management conferences;  draft case management orders; initiate and coordinate pretrial discovery; and submit and argue motions. 

Defendants in Zantac litigation were able to transfer cases filed in California courts under the Florida MDL (federal level). But plaintiff’s attorneys were able to remand the cases out of federal court and back to California state court. 

The JCCP solves the problem of having a complex case or cases filed in more than one county.

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