Judge Remands 41 Cases from Zantac MDL to State Court

On Friday the court issued an opinion in the multidistrict litigation In Re: Zantac (Ranitidine) Products Liability Litigation. The case has been consolidated in the Southern District of Florida. The MDL pertains to the possible cancer side-effects of the use of Zantac, while the motion itself was an attempt to reverse the removal of certain cases to state court.

Forty-one of the class actions that had been consolidated into the MDL had moved to be severed from the MDL and remanded back to state court. The plaintiffs argued that the cases should not have been removed to federal court as there were defendants with the same citizenship as the plaintiffs. The defendants had removed the cases due to possible fraudulent joinder of the non-diverse defendant solely for the purposes of destroying diversity and thwarting federal jurisdiction.

As the removing party, the defendants had the burden of proving that there was jurisdiction to remove the case to the federal court, which includes the burden of pricing that there was fraudulent joinder. The defendants had moved that the joinder was inappropriate by arguing that the defendant was immune to negligence in the case of a product defect. However, the court noted that the defect affecting Zantac was one that was caused or activated by the improper storage of the product, which was directly within the control of the non-diverse party, and therefore it was not impossible for the defendant to be responsible for a portion of the damages.

The court also rejected the option of severing the non-diverse defendant as the court does not have jurisdiction to actively create jurisdiction where none previously existed.