Judge Schedules First Zantac Trial in California

The judge presiding over the Zantac (Ranitidine) lawsuits taking place in the California state court system has set the first bellwether trial to begin on October 10, 2022.

Carolyn Casey, J.D.

Written by
— Updated on March 15, 2022

Judge Schedules First Zantac Trial in California

Hundreds of lawsuits materialized after the manufacturers of the heartburn medication Zantac pulled the drug off the market. The impetus for the drug recall was the FDA determination that significant levels of a cancer-causing chemical were present in Zantac when stored at higher temperatures. Plaintiffs in the California cases claim that Zantac caused them to get cancer.

California Coordination of Multiple Zantac Cases

In California, civil cases that share common issues of fact and law pending in different counties may be joined in a single court. Starting in June 2021, certain California actions against the companies that make Zantac may be a part of a California Judicial Council Coordinated Proceedings. The Honorable Evelio Grillo for the Superior Court of Alameda, CA is overseeing In Re: Ranitidine Product Cases, JCCP No. 5150 (CA Zantac JCCP). Defendants include the drug companies Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Chattem.

The bellwether trials for the much-discussed, federal Zantac Multidistrict Litigation are not expected to happen until 2023. Zantac lawsuits in states beyond California may also see trials start in 2022. There are 584 lawsuits pending in federal court in Florida as of April 2021, with hundreds more expected to file. Plaintiffs report more than 110,000 registered claims.

Moving Towards the First CA Zantac JCCP Bellwether Trial

Judge Grillo’s most recent pretrial order lays out a schedule leading up to the first bellwether trial in October. From a pool of about 700 California residents’ cases, plaintiffs and defendants will each select their 10 bellwether trial candidates. After initial discovery, the parties then will narrow the bellwether pool down to four bellwether picks by March 11, 2022. The parties then will conduct further fact and expert discovery on the pool cases from March-October 2022.

Plaintiffs will select the case for the first bellwether trial in October. Defendants chose the second case and then they alternate choosing the last two cases. April 20, 2022 is the deadline for fact discovery completion, while the cut-off for expert discovery is July 29, 2022. The scheduled September 12, 2022 Sargon Hearing—a hearing to determine that a party’s experts’ testimony will not be speculative or based on conjecture—will open the gate to proceed to trial with the first bellwether case on October 10, 2022.

Zantac Lawsuit Allegations

Plaintiffs allege that the excessive levels of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in the Zantac they took resulted in them developing cancer. The FDA found that the NDMA found in Zantac active ingredient ranitidine is a probable carcinogen. Studies also found that the longer ranitidine sits on the shelf the more the NDMA volume grows.

One main legal claim is that the Zantac design is defective due to the instability of ranitidine. Another claim is that the companies failed to warn users that there was a cancer risk in taking it. The plaintiffs in the lawsuits allege that their consumption of ranitidine led to a variety of cancers. The types of cancers include bladder, breast, colon, liver, ovarian, melanoma, esophageal, kidney, prostate, and stomach. After taking Zantac, doctors have diagnosed some people with Crohn’s disease and pulmonary hypertension.

Have there been any Zantac Lawsuit Trials or Settlements Yet?

No parties have reached a settlement in any Zantac (Ranitidine) case to date. Nor has any case proceeded to trial. So far, the Alameda County bellwether trial is the only officially scheduled Zantac trial. Attorneys in a Shelby County, Tennessee Zantac cancer case are seeking a Spring 2022 trial. Moreover, a trial in Nueces County, Texas may occur in May 2022.

Next Up in the CA Zantac JCCP

Judge Grillo also scheduled the dates for the next three bellwether trials that will happen in 2023. The trial dates are:

  • Trial Number 2: The second CA Zantac JCCP bellwether trial will begin on February 6, 2023. The defendants choose this case.
  • Trial Number 3: May 1, 2023 is the start date for the third California bellwether trial. Plaintiff’s choice as to which case will be third.
  • Trial Number 4: Watch for the August 7, 2023, fourth CA Zantac JCCP bellwether trial. Defendants will select the case for this last bellwether trial in Alameda County, CA.

Plaintiff counsel involved in Zantac cases across the U.S. will be closely watching these early bellwether trials. One plaintiff’s counsel involved in the CA Zantac JCCP believes the Zantac litigation far surpasses achievements in the Monsanto Roundup litigation.

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