Parties to the federal multidistrict litigation established for lawsuits stemming from the recent Zantac recalls have suggested that future plaintiffs be allowed to directly file their cases in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida.
According to a Joint Statement filed with the Court on March 16th, direct filing would eliminate the delays associated with transferring Zantac lawsuits from other federal jurisdictions.
“In any complaint directly filed in the Southern District of Florida pursuant to this Order, Plaintiff shall identify his or her federal district of residence in which the action otherwise would have been filed absent the direct filing procedure,” the parties’ proposed order states. “Upon completion of all pretrial proceedings applicable to a case directly filed in this Court…this Court will transfer each case to the identified federal district of residence unless the parties jointly advise the Court that a case should be transferred to another district in which venue is proper.”
Fewer than 200 Zantac lawsuits are currently pending in the Southern District of Florida, but many legal experts expect that hundreds – if not thousands – of similar claims will eventually join the multidistrict litigation. The current docket includes both individual injury claims that alleged Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) – a probable human carcinogen – in Zantac led to the development of cancer, as well as consumer class actions that seek refunds, compensation for medical monitoring, and other economic damages for consumers who purchased recalled drugs.
The federal Zantac litigation was scheduled to convene its initial conference today, but postponed the proceeding indefinitely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, the court is working to ensure Zantac lawsuits are able to move forward to the greatest extent possible during the crisis.
Drug makers around the world began recalling generic and name-brand Zantac (ranitidine) products last year, after Valisure reported that testing had detected NDMA in samples of the popular heartburn medications, frequently at levels far above the recommended daily limit of 96 nanograms. The online pharmacy also said its testing indicated that the instability of the ranitidine molecule could result in the production of NDMA in the human stomach following ingestion.
While Valisure petitioned the FDA for a Zantac recall, the agency has yet to take any steps in that direction. However, many pharmaceutical companies have chosen to conduct voluntary recalls on their own, and the drugs have been removed from store shelves by major retailers.