If you’ve never heard the term “mass tort” or might not fully understand what it means, then make sure you keep reading. A mass tort is a civil action that involves numerous plaintiffs against a single defendant in state or federal court. These types of lawsuits arise when the defendant is claimed to have caused numerous injuries to multiple parties through a single act.
You’ve likely heard of several infamous cases of mass tort, even if you might not have known the name to call them by. This type of litigation dates back to the 1960s, thought to have originated with Agent Orange, a toxin that Vietnam combat veterans and their children were exposed to. Mass tort has gone on to include big-media cases like the ones involving asbestos, tobacco, silicone breast implants, Roundup herbicide, and more. These are all cases that were fiercely litigated and included thousands of lawsuits and billions of dollars in damages, some of which are still ongoing after several years.
The most recent mass tort case to make media headlines is the Zantac lawsuit, also known as the ranitidine lawsuit. It’s a heartbreakingly prime example of a large corporation ignoring opportunities to protect consumers for the sake of maximizing profits.
The Facts About Zantac
Zantac is the brand name for a drug called ranitidine. It belongs to a family of drugs known as histamine-2 (H2) blockers. They work by decreasing the amount of acid produced in the stomach, and are commonly referred to as antacids. They’re used regularly to treat and prevent heartburn, or gastroesophageal reflux, and prescription-strength Zantac is used for treating very severe heartburn and more serious conditions like stomach and intestinal ulcers.
Both Zantac and generic ranitidine have been available in the U.S. since the 1980s and on average receive more than 15 million prescriptions per year. It was the first drug to reach $1 billion in annual U.S. sales, and drugmakers made a fortune by touting it as highly effective and safe to take. Although it was certainly effective as an antacid, the latter safety guarantee proved untrue when Zantac’s link to certain forms of cancer was made public.
In 2019, testing by a concerned third-party laboratory resulted in the discovery that ranitidine pills contain very high levels of a chemical called N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). This contaminant has been recognized as a human carcinogen since the 1970s, has repeatedly caused cancer in lab-tested animals, and dimethylhydrazine, the “D” in NDMA, was even a component of rocket fuel at one point. It’s a seriously potent carcinogen, which is why so many reputable organizations have listed it as a dangerous chemical, such as the World Health Organization, the Agency for Research on Cancer, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In light of this third-party lab’s findings, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) ran their own tests on ranitidine and discovered the same results: The levels of NDMA found were a severe cause for concern. They issued a public safety warning, and many retailers around the country promptly removed Zantac and its generic equivalents from their shelves. But it wasn’t until the FDA ordered a voluntary recall on April 1, 2020 that Zantac themselves finally removed their product from the market. Today you can no longer purchase Zantac, but it may be too little too late. Significant damage has already been done.
The Latest Developments
Since these devastating discoveries have been made public, over 500 people have come together to file a Zantac class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. In February 2020, this became the location of the current consolidated Zantac MDL, or multidistrict litigation. An MDL is a federal procedure designed to speed the process of handling complex cases such as mass torts, and the Southern District of Florida is the centralized location for the Zantac lawsuit pre-trial proceedings.
These plaintiffs are bringing the action on behalf of themselves and all similar U.S. residents who used Zantac. The official complaint they are making is that Zantac manufacturers deceived their millions of customers into “purchasing and ingesting a defective, misbranded, adulterated, and harmful drug,” all the while failing to warn those same customers about the likely-known potential that their drug contained cancer-causing agents. They are now seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
This MDL will be presided over by District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg, who was appointed to the bench by President Obama in 2014. It’s yet unsure what we can expect from Judge Rosenberg, as this will be her first MDL case.
A global settlement in the Zantac litigation will likely not happen until at least the end of 2022, with the potential of it happening later as more and more victims come forward. Cases like these, which could potentially involve thousands of plaintiffs, always take a long time to settle. Right now, litigation is in the beginning of the consolidated discovery phase, with dozens of new plaintiffs being added every day.
Who Qualifies to File a Zantac Lawsuit?
If you took Zantac or another ranitidine product on a daily or regular basis for a period of at least six months, after which time you were diagnosed with any of these cancers:
then you may qualify for a Zantac lawsuit. These specific cancers have been proven in the past to be closely linked to NDMA and its effects on the gastrointestinal system. If you’ve ever had a prescription written for Zantac, your case may also be stronger because of your evidential history of using the drug.
It’s difficult at this moment in time to accurately speculate on just how much of a payout plaintiffs can expect to receive from Zantac as a result of this case. Looking at other class-action lawsuits similar to this one makes us hopeful that certain outcomes could range as high as six figures for some victims.
The case is still in pre-trial discovery phases, and COVID-19 has certainly made things more challenging to accomplish, but progress is made every day. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer due to the use of Zantac or generic ranitidine, call our office at (833) 529-5677 or contact us here. We want to help you achieve the compensation and justice you deserve.