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Bellwether Trials Serve To Set The Stage For Thousands of Zantac Cancer Plaintiffs

Large punitive damage jury awards encourage plaintiffs to come forward and register lawsuits

Monday, November 29, 2021 - Mass tort personal injury lawsuits where individuals with similar injuries allegedly caused by using a common product or medical device are grouped into multidistrict litigation (MDL). MDL saves the court hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars by not having to replicate administrative court and discovery procedures and also assists in determining the scientific facts of the case. One high-profile legal case currently in MDL involves heartburn medicine cancer allegedly caused by taking Zantac heartburn and acid reflux medicine. Scientists at online prescription drug testing pharmacy Valisure have alleged that ranitidine naturally degrades to form NDMA. MDL judge Robin Rosenberg is interviewing potential expert witnesses to get their take on the best way to test ranitidine for the presence of carcinogens. There are currently more than 90,000 potential plaintiffs that have registered their intent to file a lawsuit against Sanofi, the maker of Zantac alleging that the company failed to warn them of the presence of high amounts of N-nitrosdimethylamine (NDMA), a deadly carcinogenic compound found in low amounts in the air and water. Sanofi is under federal investigation by the US Department of Justice and accused of lying to regulators seeking answers about ranitidine being unstable and degrading to form NDMA.

Other mass tort MDL cases include Bayer Inc., recently settling more than 100,000 lawsuits for about $12 billion where plaintiffs alleged that coming into contact with Roundup herbicide caused them to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a deadly form of cancer of the lymph nodes. About 40,000 plaintiffs with ovarian cancer await the results of MDL discovery and other issues about Johnson's Baby Powder causing their disease. Johnson & Johnson is likely to offer a settlement to plaintiffs rather than try the cases one by one. Encouraging a pre-trial settlement after a series of bellwether trials is one of the most appealing features of MDL. About 250000 military veterans filed lawsuits in MDL accusing 3M Inc., of producing a standard-issue military earplug that was too short to fit the ear canals of some soldiers and allowed hearing damage. Several multi-million jury awards could prompt 3M to make a settlement offer.

Judges use pre-registration questionnaires to weed out weak claims in MDL cases involving tens or hundreds of thousands of potential plaintiffs. MDL cases rely on these questionnaires and computerized plaintiff registries to select cases to be tried as bellwethers. The results of the bellwether cases give the judge and attorneys a feel as to jury reaction to the facts of the case and could encourage defendants to offer a settlement. A case in point was the first Johnson's Baby Powder ovarian cancer trial where a California jury awarded Eva Escheria a whopping $417 for her pain and suffering from ovarian cancer she claimed was caused by using Johnson's Baby Powder, sending a clear message to lawyers that the Johnson & Johnson treasury was wide open. The Zantac cancer litigation could wind up being the largest mass tort litigation in history as more than 15 million people were using Zantac at the time of the FDA's ranitidine recall on April 1, 2020.

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OnderLaw, LLC is a St. Louis personal injury law firm handling serious injury and death claims across the country. Its mission is the pursuit of justice, no matter how complex the case or strenuous the effort. The Onder Law Firm has represented clients throughout the United States in pharmaceutical and medical device litigation such as Pradaxa, Lexapro and Yasmin/Yaz, where the firm's attorneys held significant leadership roles in the litigation, as well as Actos, DePuy, Risperdal and others. The Onder Law Firm has won more than $300 million in four talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits in St. Louis. Law firms throughout the nation often seek its experience and expertise on complex litigation.

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