GSK Settles Zantac Bladder Cancer Lawsuit Ahead of California State Court Trial
Following the dismissal of all claims over it’s recalled heartburn drug brought in the federal court system, GlaxoSmithKline has announced that a settlement was reached to resolve a Zantac bladder cancer lawsuit that was set to go before a jury in a California state court.
Zantac (ranitidine) was used by millions of Americans for treatment of heartburn and acid reflux, before it was removed from the market in late 2019, after it was discovered that the active pharmaceutical ingredient is inherently unstable, and produces high levels of the chemical byproduct N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which is a potent human carcinogen.
Over the past four years, GlaxoSmithKline, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer, Sanofi and various other manufacturers, distributors and retailers involved in the sale of brand name or generic ranitidine pills have faced more than 100,000 Zantac lawsuits brought by former users who indicate they have been diagnosed with bladder cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer or other injuries, as NDMA moved through their body.
Given common questions of fact and law raised in cases brought throughout the federal court system, the federal Zantac litigation was centralized before Judge Robin L. Rosenberg in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.
However, late last year, Judge Rosenberg issued an unexpected ruling, determining that all of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses were excluded from testifying at trial under federal evidentiary rules. The decision was made following a “Daubert” hearing, named after a U.S. Supreme Court that defined the requirements for evaluating the reliability of expert testimony under the federal standards for admissibility of causation evidence.
While appeals have been filed to challenge Judge Rosenberg’s ruling, the decision has left federal plaintiffs without any means of proving the recalled Zantac pills caused their cancer, and all Zantac lawsuits pending in the federal court system have been dismissed. However, the federal ruling does not have any impact on lawsuits filed in California and various other state courts, where different standards for the admissibility of expert witness testimony apply.
Zantac Bladder Cancer Lawsuit Settlement Announced
The first California state case scheduled to go to trial involved a Zantac bladder cancer claim filed by James Goetz, which was expected to go before a jury on July 24.
While the outcome of the trial would not have any binding impact on other claims pending in California, or other state court systems where active litigation is still being pursued after the dismissal of all federal claims, the trial was intended to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation.
On June 23, weeks before the case was set to begin, GlaxoSmithKline issued a press release announcing that it has reached a confidential agreement to settle the Zantac lawsuit. However, no details on the settlement agreement have been released.
GlaxoSmithKline indicates it did not admit liability in the settlement agreement and continues to plan to defend against future claims.
July 2023 Zantac Lawsuit Update
There are an estimated 50,000 Zantac lawsuits still pending in state courts nationwide, with other claims expected to go before juries in various different venues later this year, if additional settlements are not reached.
While federal plaintiffs are appealing the decision made Judge Rosenberg in the federal court system, other state court judges are expected to weigh in on the reliability of plaintiffs expert witness testimony in the coming months, evaluating the strength and reliability of the plaintiffs evidence establishing that Zantac causes cancer under different state court standards.
In addition to cases moving forward to trial in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Nevada, additional California state court Zantac trials are expected to begin later this year as well, with cases previously scheduled to go before juries on August 7, 2023 and October 23, 2023.
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