Zantac Lawsuit Update: California Judge Allows Cases to Proceed Despite Federal Dismissal

Zantac Lawsuit Update: California Judge Allows Cases to Proceed Despite Federal Dismissal

Zantac was once the most popular heartburn medication. That is, until the 2019 recall, which pulled Zantac and other drugs containing the ingredient ranitidine from the market. Testing revealed that Zantac (ranitidine) was unstable and could produce high levels of a carcinogenic chemical under certain conditions. Individuals have filed Zantac lawsuits, claiming the drug caused them to develop cancer. However, a federal judge excluded the Zantac plaintiffs’ expert witnesses from testifying, dismissing thousands of federal claims. Despite this ruling, a California judge decided the opinions of expert witnesses are reliable. This Zantac lawsuit update has opened the door for lawsuits to move forward in California state court.

Federal Zantac Cases Dismissed After Judge Bars Expert Witnesses

Drugmakers like GSK and Sanofi filed a motion to dismiss federal Zantac lawsuits, arguing there is no sound science to back claims that Zantac causes cancer. On December 6, 2023, Judge Rosenberg, overseeing federal Zantac claims, granted drugmakers’ request to exclude plaintiffs’ expert witnesses. After a “Daubert” hearing, Judge Rosenberg dismissed more than 2,000 federal Zantac cases. A Daubert hearing is a court process where the judge decides if a party can present expert testimony at a trial based on its scientific reliability and relevance.

Following the hearing, Judge Rosenberg questioned the testing methodologies used to determine that Zantac (ranitidine) contains NDMA, a possible cancer-causing agent. Therefore, Judge Rosenberg concluded that the plaintiffs failed to provide sufficient scientific proof to support their cases.

Without their expert witnesses, the plaintiffs had no way to prove that taking Zantac caused their cancer. However, this federal ruling had no bearing on Zantac lawsuits pending in state courts. Federal and state courts have different standards for admissible evidence.

California Judge Greenlights Zantac Lawsuits in State Court

In a positive Zantac lawsuit update for plaintiffs, California Superior Court Judge Evelio ruled that plaintiffs’ expert witnesses should be allowed to testify in court. Judge Evelio reached this decision after a “Sargon” hearing. A Sargon hearing in California court, like a Daubert hearing, is an opportunity for a judge to evaluate whether an expert’s testimony and evidence are valid.

Zantac manufacturer GSK disagreed with the California judge’s ruling, reiterating that ranitidine does not increase the risk of any cancer. The company remains determined to defend itself and the safety of ranitidine in court.

Plaintiffs welcomed this Zantac lawsuit update as it enables juries to hear evidence supporting claims that the heartburn drug increases the risk of cancer.

Zantac Lawsuit Update May 2023

Although plaintiffs’ lawyers have appealed Judge Rosenberg’s dismissal of federal lawsuits, it is uncertain how long this appeal will take. Plaintiffs who have filed cases in federal court must wait for a potential overturn of Judge Rosenberg’s ruling to know if their cases will proceed.

Despite the dismissal of federal Zantac cases, over 50,000 Zantac cancer claims are still pending in state courts nationwide. Judge Evelio’s ruling has paved the way for Zantac cases to proceed in California state court. The first California Zantac trial is to begin on July 24, 2023.