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On April 1, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested manufacturers withdraw all prescription and over-the-counter ranitidine (Zantac) drugs from the market. This, after tests, showed the products could contain N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a potent carcinogen.

Meanwhile, many consumers had already filed Zantac lawsuits, claiming that they had taken the drug for years and were later diagnosed with cancer as a result.  In February 2020, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated all federally filed Zantac lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida for consolidated pre-trial proceedings.

Now the judge overseeing the Zantac MDL has ordered the parties to randomly select 200 cases to be part of an initial discovery pool.

Parties Determine Guidelines for Selecting Bellwether Pool

In a pretrial order filed November 19, 2021, Judge Robin L. Rosenberg outlined the procedures to prepare for the selection of the cases that will proceed to bellwether trials, currently scheduled the begin in the summer of 2023.

As of the date of the order, over 1,800 Zantac lawsuits were pending in the MDL court. For the initial discovery pool, the parties have agreed that only plaintiffs residing in the state of Florida will be considered.

The reasons for this are:

  • The court has subpoena power over witnesses with case-specific information about Florida plaintiffs.
  • The parties agree that Florida plaintiffs are similar to other plaintiffs nationwide.
  • The parties agree that Florida state law is “kind of in the middle” when it comes to various state laws concerning this type of case, which should be helpful from the standpoint of formulating settlement values.

The parties have also disclosed the types of cancer that they intend to litigate in this MDL. These include:

  • Bladder
  • Colorectal/intestinal
  • Esophageal
  • Gastric
  • Lung
  • Pancreatic
  • Prostate

Zantac Lawsuits Scheduled to Begin in 2023

According to the court order, on December 10, 2021, the parties used the Microsoft Randomizer to randomly select eight percent of the bellwether pool for each cancer type.

The selected plaintiffs shall produce signed authorizations and a list of medical providers. The parties will then begin the process of records collections to vet the initial discovery pool.  The parties will agree on the eligibility criteria by March 1, 2022.

By August 1, 2022, the parties will submit to the court the initial discovery pool of plaintiffs whose claims satisfy the eligibility criteria. This will constitute the final discovery pool.

Judge Rosenberg indicated that the parties will be ready to commence the first bellwether trial in the summer of 2023, “if not sooner.”

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