A federal judge recently threw out claims against drug makers of the heartburn medication, Zantac. According to the judge, the claims could not move forward as they were preempted by federal law.
This ruling likely leaves victims who developed cancer and other injuries from Zantac and generic brands frustrated. These victims likely wonder whether or not they can still hold the responsible party liable for their injuries. Thankfully for the victims and their loved ones, the answer is yes. This post will delve into what this ruling means and how victims can continue to move forward with their cases.
Step #1: What does this ruling mean?
First, let us take a moment to discuss preemption. The legal system within the United States, much like the overarching government structure, is set up with checks and balances. Preemption is one of those checks and balances. Preemption works in many ways. For example, a holding at the highest court, the Supreme Court, applies to courts throughout the country. In another example, when federal and state law collide, federal law generally wins — which is what the court addressed in this case.
The federal law at issue in this case is the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. For this specific issue, the victims argued the drug manufacturer selling this medication should have changed the label once they were aware of the potential danger it posed. The drug manufacturers countered that the victim’s design defect claim, brought under state law, was preempted by the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. They argued that they could not change the label and still remain in compliance with the requirements of this law. The judge agreed.
Step #2: How can victims still move forward?
The judge noted that the victims could have a case if they narrow the design defect claim. One option may involve whether the drug makers could have made a change without FDA approval and remained in compliance with the requirements of the law.
It is important to note that this ruling involves one specific issue. Other legal claims involving the manufacturer also continue to move forward, and it appears there is still the possibility for victims to revisit this issue. This case provides an example of the complexity of these claims. Victims can take heart in the fact that they are not alone. Options are available to help hold drug makers and manufactures connected to their injury financially accountable for their wrongdoing.