The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a federal district court’s ruling that cleared Zantac manufacturers of liability against a consolidated third-party class complaint (CTPCC). The complaint was filed by a Florida-based union. 

The Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 630 in West Palm Beach alleged that Zantac (ranitidine) contained a carcinogenic substance, and as a result, the heartburn drug’s manufacturers should be forced to pay monetary damages. 

The Nov. 7 ruling by the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit found that while some of the Union’s claims had standing, its complaint as a whole amounted to a “shotgun pleading,” meaning that the union’s claims were unorganized and lacked clarity, Florida Record reported

The federal district court initially ruled the Union’s claim a shotgun pleading. But the Union did not challenge that ruling when it filed its initial brief for appeal. “Plumbers [Union 630] was put on notice, before it filed its initial brief, that a failure to challenge the district court’s shotgun pleading ruling could be problematic,” read the 11th Circuit Court’s opinion. “By not contesting that ruling, Plumbers has given us no choice but to affirm the dismissal of the CTPPCC.”

There are fewer than 3,000 federal Zantac cases consolidated in multidistrict litigation (MDL). However, more than 50,000 people have filed Zantac cancer claims in order to beat the statute of limitations. Plaintiffs and claimants allege that they developed cancer after using Zantac for many years. 

The FDA pulled Zantac and all other ranitidine products from the market on April 1, 2020 after lab testing revealed that the drug contained unusually high levels of a carcinogenic byproduct, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).

Lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies are usually filed by individual plaintiffs or a class of plaintiffs. Third-party entities that file lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies do not allege that the drug makers’ products are unsafe. Instead, they seek monetary damages based on the fact that the drug makers sought profits while consumers derived no medical benefit from the drugs. 

In addition to unions, other examples of third-party plaintiffs include insurance companies and health maintenance organizations (HMOs).