Do I Need to Hire a Zantac (Ranitidine) Lawyer?

How do you choose a lawyer who's right for you and your lawsuit over Zantac (or other products containing ranitidine)?

By , J.D. · University of San Francisco School of Law
Updated by Stacy Barrett, Attorney · UC Law San Francisco

If you're considering filing a lawsuit over health problems caused by Zantac (ranitidine), having the right attorney can make a big difference in the outcome. Here's what you need to know:

  • Thousands of Zantac lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts nationwide. The manufacturers of these products have hired teams of expensive lawyers to defend them in court, so having a qualified lawyer on your side is crucial.
  • Zantac lawsuits are complex and require medical and legal expertise.
  • Asking the right questions from the start, and understanding what to expect in the attorney-client relationship can make a big difference in the outcome of your case.

Zantac Lawsuits

Millions of people have taken Zantac (or its generic form "ranitidine") to treat conditions like heartburn, ulcers, and acid reflux. For decades, you could get a prescription for Zantac from your doctor or buy it at your local drugstore or grocery store. Medical providers and drug regulators viewed the products as safe enough for even children and pregnant women to take.

That all changed in September 2019, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that testing identified NDMA, a cancer-causing substance, in ranitidine products. A slew of lawsuits filed by people harmed by Zantac (the "plaintiffs") against the companies that made and sold ranitidine products (the "defendants") soon followed. By April 2020, all Zantac and other ranitidine products were pulled from the market at the FDA's request.

Should You File a Zantac Lawsuit?

If you've been diagnosed with any type of cancer after regularly taking Zantac, you should talk to a lawyer about a potential product liability lawsuit. You'll have to be able to show all of the following:

  • you regularly took Zantac (with receipts to prove it)
  • Zantac was dangerous
  • you developed cancer as a result of taking Zantac, and
  • you were using the product as intended.

The most difficult thing for you (and other Zantac plaintiffs) to prove will be that your cancer was caused by Zantac and not some other environmental or genetic factor. You'll need your exact diagnosis and treatment plan.

If your loved one died because of a Zantac-related illness, you might be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

How Much Is a Zantac Case Worth?

If you're considering filing a Zantac lawsuit, you're probably wondering how much compensation you might get for your losses (called "damages").

Damages can be hard to predict and vary from case to case. Zantac plaintiffs who reach out-of-court settlements or win at trial will typically get compensation for:

  • the cost of past and future medical care
  • past lost income and future lost earnings (or "diminished earning capacity"), and
  • pain and suffering (physical and mental).

Find out more about damages and the potential value of your Zantac case.

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Zantac Lawsuit?

Zantac lawsuits are complex. You'll need someone with medical and legal expertise to help you gather evidence, including the right expert witnesses, to make your case. You'll be up against corporate defendants with deep pockets who will spare no expense to defend themselves in court. An experienced lawyer on your side can help you get the best possible outcome in your case.

Starting Your Search for a Zantac Lawsuit Attorney

The best way to find a lawyer is often through a personal referral. Ask people you trust, like coworkers and friends, if they know a good lawyer. But most people probably haven't worked with a product liability lawyer. You might want to reach out to state and local bar associations for help. Bar associations typically have listings you can search by an attorney's area of practice. You can also see if a potential attorney is currently licensed and whether the attorney has been disciplined by the bar for ethical violations.

You're looking for an attorney who has experience handling lawsuits like yours. You also want to work with an attorney who is trustworthy and easy to open up to about your health and finances. You can connect with an attorney directly from this page for free.

Learn more about finding the right lawyer for a personal injury case.

Questions to Ask Potential Zantac Lawyers

When you interview a lawyer in person or over the phone about taking on your Zantac/ranitidine case, here is some information you'll want to find out:

1. How long has the lawyer been in practice?

2. Roughly what percentage of the lawyer's practice involves personal injury cases? Has the lawyer handled cases related to products or medications in general?

3. Has the lawyer worked on Zantac/ranitidine lawsuits in particular?

4. Does the lawyer most often represent plaintiffs or defendants? (You probably don't want to be represented by someone who has only represented defendants in personal injury cases. Advocating for plaintiffs who have been hurt requires a different approach than helping clients avoid liability at all costs. A lawyer with experience representing plaintiffs and defendants can be a good choice—it never hurts to have an advocate who can see things from both sides.)

5. Would the lawyer personally handle your case or pass it along to another—perhaps less experienced—lawyer in the office? (It's normal for more than one attorney in an office to work on the same case, and to have less experienced attorneys (or paralegals and law clerks) handle routine tasks. But you should find out who would have primary responsibility for your case.)

6. How will the lawyer be paid? Who will pay for expenses and when? (Personal injury lawyers typically get paid only if the plaintiff gets compensation through a settlement or trial—usually, they take a percentage of the overall sum. More on "contingency fees" below. Expenses (like expert witness fees) might come out of that money, too, or you might have to pay the fees out of pocket, win or lose.)

Remember to consider any special needs you might have and logistics. For example, would you benefit from an attorney who speaks a language other than English? If you need to visit the lawyer from time to time, is the lawyer's office nearby or close to public transportation?

Zantac Lawyers' Fees and More

Chances are a lawyer will handle your Zantac/ranitidine lawsuit on a "contingency fee" basis. This means if your Zantac case settles, or your lawsuit goes all the way to trial and you receive a judgment in your favor, your lawyer will be paid a percentage of what you receive—usually around one-third of the total. If you don't receive anything from the other side, your lawyer doesn't get paid.

It's important to read the fine print of any attorney-client contract before you sign it and to understand whether you would be on the hook for expenses or "costs" associated with your case if you don't end up with a trial win or settlement.

Even if you think you have a good case, be prepared for a lawyer to turn down the opportunity to represent you. Many lawyers don't take cases if they fall below a certain potential recovery amount, or if a key element of the case is less than clear. For example, maybe you've used Zantac or some other ranitidine product a lot, but you haven't received a diagnosis of cancer, so there's no clear harm yet. Be prepared to keep looking for help with your case, and to look again as your situation changes.

Understanding Contingency Fees

Under a contingency fee agreement, your attorney takes a percentage of any settlement or court judgment you get. If your Zantac case does not reach a settlement, and there is no award in your favor, you typically don't owe your attorney a fee.

A contingency fee is often 33%. Some attorneys will handle a Zantac/ranitidine case on a "sliding scale," which works much the same way as a standard contingency fee arrangement, except the percentage goes up as the case gets closer to trial. For example, if the case settles before the lawyer has to file a lawsuit in civil court, the fee percentage might be 25%. If the plaintiff wins after a lawsuit is filed and the case goes all the way through trial, the attorney's fee might be 40%. (Learn more about personal injury attorney fees.)

Some attorneys might have a policy of raising their contingency fee percentage once a Zantac case is set for trial and requires more prep time. If an appeal is necessary, the attorney's fee might go up as part of the contract, or the attorney might want to draw up a new contract to stay on the case.

"Costs" in a Zantac (Ranitidine) Case

Costs and fees are two different things in a Zantac lawsuit. Costs are the expenses that the attorney or firm pays to move the case along toward settlement or judgment. You may have to reimburse the attorney for some or all costs. Costs typically include:

  • filing fees (for the initial complaint, subsequent motions, and such)
  • the cost of serving documents on defendants
  • charges for obtaining medical records
  • deposition transcript fees, and
  • payment to medical experts.

Most plaintiffs' attorneys will try to keep costs down and not spend money unnecessarily. If the case doesn't settle, the attorney might be responsible for some of the costs, but make sure that ultimate financial responsibility for costs is spelled out in your fee agreement with your lawyer.

Attorneys' fees are different from costs. Attorneys' fees compensate an attorney for the attorney's time, as well as the time of any support staff. Fees typically include payment for researching and drafting the complaint and motions, appearing in court, calling witnesses, reviewing documents, taking and defending depositions, and preparing for and putting on a trial.

Learn more about managing lawyer costs and expenses in a personal injury case.

Timing of Cost Calculation in a Zantac Case

An important point to consider when it comes to costs: If you win your case, you will usually be on the financial hook for costs. But whether your attorney takes his or her contingency fee percentage before or after these costs are paid can make a significant difference in how much money you ultimately get.

For example, let's say your Zantac lawsuit goes to trial, and the jury awards you $200,000. Your litigation costs are $25,000, and your attorney's contingency fee percentage is 33%. If your litigation costs are paid before your attorney's contingency fee percentage, the attorney gets $57,750 (33% of $175,000) and you get $117,250 ($175,000 minus $57,750).

But if you pay for litigation costs after your attorney takes the contingency fee percentage, your attorney gets $66,000 (33% of $200,000) and you get $109,000 ($134,000 minus $25,000). The timing here results in an $8,250 difference in your settlement.

Again, these kinds of financial details—and whether you could be on the hook for any expenses if you don't end up with a settlement or judgment—should be clearly stated in the fee agreement you sign.

Working With Your Lawyer in a Zantac Case

When you're looking for someone to help with your Zantac (ranitidine) case, you want to end up with the right lawyer. And that expectation works both ways.

Just as you want a good lawyer to fight for you, every lawyer wants a "good client." But how much of being a "good client" is actually within your control? Here are some tips on working with your lawyer to ensure the best outcome for your lawsuit over heartburn medication-related health problems:

  • be honest with your lawyer
  • be responsive to your lawyer
  • attend all medical appointments
  • cooperate in the discovery process (including practicing for your deposition), and
  • communicate about problems as they come up.

Switching Zantac Attorneys

Let's say that sometime after you hire Attorney A, you decide to end the attorney-client relationship (for whatever reason) and take your Zantac case to Attorney B at a different firm. Attorney A probably has a "lien" on any costs advanced toward your case, and on any proportional fees for representation, which will likely come out of any settlement or judgment Attorney B wins on your behalf. The attorneys will sort this issue out between themselves, but it's something to keep in mind and discuss with a new attorney if you change representation.

Talk to a Zantac Lawyer

If you're experiencing health problems that could be linked to your use of Zantac or another ranitidine product, you should talk to a lawyer. Learn more about working with a personal injury lawyer. You can also connect with a lawyer directly from this page for free.

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