On April 1st, 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled all Zantac and ranitidine products from the market due to substantial evidence linking the drug to hazardous levels of the carcinogenic chemical N-nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA.
As a result, tens of thousands of former Zantac users have come forward to proceed with legal action after being diagnosed with cancer because of NDMA overexposure. This volume of claims against Zantac manufacturers qualifies this litigation as a mass tort case– a mass tort indicates a type of civil action in which multiple plaintiffs with similar injuries file suit against the same defendant or defendants.
Due to all of the moving pieces involved, mass tort cases are often timely to resolve, and exhaustive in length. The main reason why these cases are often complicated is because of latent injuries, or injuries that develop over time, which sometimes appear after the process has started.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys must clearly establish that the defendants are legally responsible for their client’s injuries, and it is quite difficult to establish direct causation for latent injuries. Many times the evidence of a causal link between product use and the harm claimed is uncertain. Furthermore, there are obstacles that arise from how judges and juries will evaluate and respond to whatever scientific evidence is available.
How Will the Zantac Settlements Work?
Mass tort cases such as Zantac are resolved through either global settlements or inventory settlements.
Global (or matrix) settlements
A global settlement is a dollar amount that covers all the outstanding claims. In the case of Zantac, there may very well be tens of thousands of claims. There is also a “matrix” of criteria to decide which plaintiff gets how much.
For example, stage 1 cancer patients who are cured through treatment may receive less than stage 4 cancer patients who are terminally ill. Individuals who had one surgery may receive less than those who had multiple surgeries.Therefore, each settlement may depend on the severity of the injuries that were sustained.
With inventory settlements, plaintiffs’ law firms evaluate their cases individually (most firms involved have multiple Zantac clients). Each plaintiff agrees to an acceptable settlement amount. Then the plaintiffs’ firm adds together each client’s acceptable minimum– this is called the aggregate minimum.
The defense attorneys offer each firm a settlement to cover all of its clients. If a firm scores a larger settlement than the aggregate minimum, each client will get a percentage of the extra money.Ultimately, it is up to each plaintiff to accept or reject the settlement.
The standard legal fee for plaintiffs’ attorneys is 40% plus expenses. In mass tort cases like Zantac with thousands of plaintiffs, expenses tend to be minimal as multiple firms are sharing the litigation costs. If plaintiffs were to bring individual cases, the expenses may be very high as that plaintiff would be shouldering all the litigation costs.
The plaintiff can expect to receive close to 60% of the total settlement, so if $100,00 is awarded, the client will receive about $60,000. An attorney’s retainer agreement spells out all the terms of the legal fee.People are advised to never hire an attorney who charges a fee upfront, or an attorney who charges a fee if he/she loses the case.
What if I Do Not Agree to a Settlement?
Those who do not wish or agree to take the settlement offers may take the case to trial in hopes of a higher offer. However, as with any case, there is no guarantee the plaintiff will win at trial, and even if he or she does in fact win, there is no guarantee the court will award more than the settlement amount.
Ultimately, plaintiffs should always discuss with their attorneys whether a settlement is fair or not and their chances of success at trial. A client should never feel pressured to accept a settlement.
Contact the Experienced Zantac Attorneys of Van Law Firm
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer as a result of extended Zantac use, call (702) 529-1011 to speak with the experienced team of Las Vegas Zantac lawyers at Van Law Firm.
Our knowledgeable personal injury and defective drug attorneys can recover multiple forms of compensation, from medical costs to lost wages. We’ve negotiated over $50 million in settlements for our clients thus far, and that’s not counting what we can recover for you.