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Boca Raton Personal Injury Lawyer > Blog > Defective Products > Florida Judge Continues To Sort Out Zantac Litigation

Florida Judge Continues To Sort Out Zantac Litigation


Since the 1980s, Zantac–the brand name of the drug ranitidine–has been one of the most popular over-the-counter medications in U.S. history. Millions of people have purchased and used Zantac, and later its generic equivalent, to treat heartburn and related conditions. Unfortunately, multiple scientific studies have found that ranitidine can transform into another chemical compound, N-nitrosodimethylamine (or NDMA), which causes cancer in humans.

As a result of this discovery, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requested the voluntary withdrawal of any ranitidine products from the market that contained a certain level of NDMA. More than 1,400 lawsuits followed against the manufacturers of Zantac and its equivalents. In February 2020, the lawsuits were consolidated by a federal multi-district judicial litigation panel before Judge Robin L. Rosenberg here in Florida.

Judge Rejects Application of “Innovator-Liability” Theory

Judge Rosenberg recently dismissed one set of claims involving some of these Zantac lawsuits. The claims revolved around a novel legal theory called “innovator-liability,” which is only recognized in California and Massachusetts. Back in 2008, a California appellate court held that under certain circumstances, the manufacturer of a brand-name drug could be held liable for injuries sustained by users of a generic equivalent of that same drug. The California court said that if the patient’s doctor relied upon the brand-name drug manufacturer’s product label and warnings when prescribing the generic drug, and the patient’s long-term use of that generic drug led to injury, that would be sufficient to link any failure by the brand-name manufacturer’s failure to disclose possible side effects to the injury.

The California Supreme Court later adopted this “innovator-liability” theory and said that “brand-name drug manufacturers have a duty to use ordinary care in warning about the safety risks of their drugs, regardless of whether the injured party (in reliance on the brand-name manufacturer’s warnings) was dispensed the brand-name or generic version of the drug.” The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court later adopted a similar rule.

The problem in the present Zantac lawsuits, Judge Rosenberg explained, was that the affected plaintiffs could not prove that either California or Massachusetts law applied to their particular claims. Rosenberg noted that at least 35 other states had rejected some form of innovator-liability theory. So it was necessary to establish jurisdiction in California or Massachusetts. And while the defendant drug manufacturers did do business in those states, none of the defendants were based in those states. Furthermore, Rosenberg said the plaintiffs had not established how the defendants’ business contacts in either stsate “relate to” their particular claims. As a result, the plaintiffs could not proceed with any argument based on innovator-liability theory.

Contact a Florida Zantac Attorney Today

Complex litigation like the Zantac cases often involve difficult and novel questions of law that need to be sorted out before a jury ever hears the matter. That is why if you have been injured by the use of Zantac or another dangerous or defective drug, it is important you work with an experienced Boca Raton defective products lawyer. Contact Leifer & Ramirez today to schedule a free case consultation.


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