In December of last year, the federal court judge overseeing the MDL relating to Zantac claims effectively dismissed all cases against GSK. This was most certainly the worst news possible, but can Zantac claims possibly make a comeback?
Potentially yes, with a few serious caveats.
Even though Judge Rosenberg’s ruling on the admissibility of expert witnesses is on appeal to the 11th circuit, some have turned to state court systems, and now, there is some real hope.
There is less hope at the 11th Circuit due to the high burdens required on appeal, but state courts may be the pathway for some kind of success.
Federal appeal becomes even less desirable when you consider that Judge Rosenberg refused to allow the appeals to be bundled, meaning each claimant would have to pay a $400 filing fee – something few plaintiff attorneys are willing to do.
California in July
On March 26, California Judge Evelio Grillo looked at the same expert evidence excluded by Judge Rosenburg in the MDL and found that it was admissible, at least in California.
This makes plaintiffs’ cases in California much more winnable, and it may even open the door to additional settlements after the first trial concludes.
It is scheduled for July of this year, and the answer to that case may be the best guide going forward. The California case will serve as an important bellwether for future cases and settlement discussions.
James Goetz is the plaintiff, and several developments make this case especially interesting. Two other defendants in the case, Sanofi and Pfizer, have already settled with Mr. Goetz, leaving GSK the only defendant in the case.
The expert evidence is now admissible. All signs point to a win.
The Empire State Also Holds Potential
New York state has already established a state version of an MDL for these cases, and even though there isn’t a lot of news from the Empire State, there is some great potential here as well.
In January, the New York State Litigation Coordinating Panel consolidated 40 Zantac claims and said future Zantac lawsuits in New York will also be consolidated.
Other states may follow, but that remains to be seen.
The bigger issue…
The bigger issue with these cases will likely be the statutes of limitations associated with these claims.
If plaintiffs have not yet filed in state courts, it may be too late to assert these claims.
It will take a delicate touch to navigate these procedural waters. Caution is likely the best tactic to follow, but these cases may not be quite as dead as we thought just a few weeks ago.