Court Consolidates 40 Zantac Lawsuits Pending in New York State for Pretrial Litigation
With a growing number of Zantac lawsuits being filed in various different state courts nationwide following the controversial decision of a federal judge to dismiss thousands of cases last month, a panel of New York judges have decided to establish consolidated pretrial proceedings in the state for at least 40 similar complaints already filed involving allegations that the recalled heartburn drug caused users to develop cancer.
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.
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.
State Zantac Lawsuits Proceed After Federal Dismissals
Given common questions of fact and law raised in cases brought throughout the federal court system, the 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, on December 6, Judge Rosenberg issued an unexpected ruling, determining that all of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses were excluded from testifying at trial under the federal standards for admissibility of causation evidence.
The decision 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 will be dismissed as a result. However, the federal ruling will not have any impact on lawsuits filed in various state courts, where different standards for the admissibility of expert witness testimony apply.
Yesterday, the New York State Litigation Coordinating Panel ordered that 40 Zantac lawsuits be consolidated for pretrial proceedings in New York County. While a Coordinating Justice has not yet been named to oversee the litigation, all ongoing proceedings have been stayed until one is appointed.
In complex product liability litigation, where large numbers of claims raise similar allegations against the manufacturers of similar products, it is common for the claims to be consolidated so that the parties reduce duplicative discovery that would otherwise be repeated throughout large numbers of claims, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of common parties and witnesses involved in the litigation.
Much like a federal multidistrict litigation, except in this case at the state level, the cases filed in the New York mass litigation will remain independent claims, and following pretrial proceedings, if no resolution or settlement agreement has been reached, each case will be tried individually in its originating New York state court district.
February 2023 Zantac Lawsuit Update
There are an estimated 50,000 Zantac lawsuits still pending in state courts nationwide, with the first cases expected to before juries in various different venues throughout 2023.
A Zantac bladder cancer lawsuit filed by James Goetz was initially expected to begin in February 2023. However, days after the federal litigation was dismissed, Sanofi and Pfizer announced that a Zantac settlement was reached to resolve the case, rather than defending the safety of their drug before a jury. However, no details on the amount of the Zantac settlement have been released.
Additional California state court Zantac trials are expected to begin later this year, with cases previously scheduled to go before juries on May 1, 2023, August 7, 2023 and October 23, 2023.
These trials will be closely watched by parties involved in the litigation, and may provide a “bellwether” to help gauge how juries will respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the remaining state court cases.
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