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JPML Orders Zantac Lawsuits Consolidated in Southern District of Florida

Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) heard arguments to consider consolidating all federally filed Zantac lawsuits before one court. Both plaintiffs and defendants agreed that consolidation was prudent given the shared questions of fact, but they disagreed on the preferred location for the MDL.

Following the hearing, the JPML ordered that Zantac lawsuits should be centralized in the Southern District of Florida. The Honorable Robin L. Rosenberg has been assigned to oversee the proceedings.

Parties Discuss Centralization and Potential Transferee Districts

Currently, the Zantac litigation consists of 15 actions pending in nine districts, though that number is expected to grow substantially over the coming months. Plaintiffs in all of the actions allege that Zantac (ranitidine) exposes users to N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a probable human carcinogen.

In nine of the cases, the plaintiffs bring personal injury claims, stating that after taking Zantac for years, they were diagnosed with cancer. Six of the actions involve plaintiffs seeking refunds or other economic damages—such as that to cover medical monitoring—after purchasing what now is alleged to be a dangerous and risky product.

In addition to these 15 cases, the parties informed the panel of an additional 126 related actions pending in 21 districts, which will now be transferred to the MDL. All but one of the parties agreed that centralization would be helpful. The one exception was a plaintiff making claims related to generic ranitidine rather than Zantac.

Opinions varied widely as to the appropriate district for the Zantac MDL. Plaintiffs proposed many different locations, including courts in California, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Tennessee. During the hearing, however, most plaintiffs argued for the Southern District of Florida.

The Defendants, on the other hand, preferred New Jersey or New York.

Panel Decides on the Southern District of Florida

The JPML agreed that centralization would eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary. They also agreed that cases concerning personal injuries and cases involving economic losses should be included in the MDL, as the core factual issues would be the same.

Those issues, according to the Order, include “how ranitidine allegedly forms NDMA; the nature and extent of the health risks posed by NDMA and the NDMA levels at issues; defendants’ knowledge of the NDMA-associated risks of ranitidine; and the impact of any findings made by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is investigating this issue.”

The Panel decided that the Southern District of Florida was the best location for the Zantac MDL because a large number of Zantac lawsuits are already pending there and because the majority of the plaintiffs supported that location. The District is also relatively convenient and accessible and has the resources to safely handle what is expected to be large litigation.

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