Can I File a Zantac/Ranitidine Lawsuit on Behalf of My Loved One?

In certain situations, you can bring a Zantac/ranitidine lawsuit on behalf of someone else, but special rules and limitations may apply.

The popular heartburn medication Zantac (and similar ranitidine-based drugs) has been linked to cancer. The belief is that ranitidine transforms into N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently believes is a "probable carcinogen."

Given the widespread use of ranitidine medications over the past few decades, there is a fear that millions of people face significant health risks. Already, many Zantac/ranitidine lawsuits have been filed against pharmaceutical companies. But is it possible to file a Zantac lawsuit on behalf of a loved one? In most instances the answer is yes, although there will sometimes be special procedures to follow, and some of these options come with limitations on the kinds of compensation available.

"Standing" and Zantac/Ranitidine Lawsuits

"Standing" is the legal term for the right to file a civil lawsuit seeking some kind of court-ordered remedy (in a Zantac case that means compensation for harm). In the vast majority of cases in which you're the person harmed, you will have standing to bring a lawsuit on your own behalf. Bringing a lawsuit on behalf of someone else who has suffered injury or other harm is possible, but that doesn't mean you'll have standing to sue on behalf of just anyone. There are four main situations where you might have standing to file a Zantac lawsuit on behalf of someone else.

Incapacitation

With incapacitation, you're filing a lawsuit because the person who was harmed by Zantac is legally or physically unable to bring the lawsuit themselves. This will often be due to physical incapacitation, such as if your loved one is in a coma. It can also be the result of your loved one not being of "sound mind," meaning in that the law will not allow them to take any legally binding action, like filing a lawsuit.

To get over this hurdle, you will probably need "power of attorney" in order to make legal, financial, and medical decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person.

If your loved one already has a comprehensive estate plan, they will most likely already have someone designated as having power of attorney. If the power of attorney does not exist before the incapacitation, someone will need to ask the court to grant this legal designation. This can sometimes be a long and drawn-out process, especially if there is disagreement over who should have the power of attorney. Get more details on how power of attorney works (from Nolo.com).

Plaintiff Is a Minor

It's unlikely that someone under 18 years of age has suffered harm from ranitidine medication. But should these circumstances arise, it will be a parent or legal guardian who brings suit on behalf of the minor. One primary exception to this is where the minor is legally independent due to emancipation.

If Your Loved One Dies Before Bringing Suit

There are two primary legal actions that individuals can bring on behalf of a loved one who died after being diagnosed with a Zantac/ranitidine-related illness, but before they could file their own lawsuit. These are "wrongful death" actions and "survival" actions.

In a wrongful death lawsuit, an individual sues for harm they endured because of the death of a loved one. For example, a plaintiff bringing a wrongful death lawsuit stemming from the death of a spouse might try to recover for:

  • lost income of the deceased spouse
  • loss on consortium and support
  • emotional pain and suffering
  • medical expenses, and
  • funeral expenses.

Learn more about who can file a wrongful death lawsuit.

In a survival action, an individual is suing on behalf of the would-be plaintiff. In essence, this means someone else continues or starts a lawsuit because the would-be plaintiff has passed away. The damages potentially recoverable in a survival action are usually the same as those the deceased plaintiff would have been able to recover if they were still alive.

Each state will have its own rules concerning how survival and wrongful death actions work. Most of the time, it will be a beneficiary or legal representative of the decedent's estate (executor or administrator) who files these kinds of cases.

Note on Class Action Lawsuits: A ranitidine class action lawsuit is possible given the sheer number of people potentially affected. In a class action, a select group of plaintiffs will file a lawsuit on behalf of a much larger group (the "class"). However, it's unlikely you can file or join a Zantac class action on behalf of a loved one, unless you suffered some type of harm yourself.

If you're looking for information tailored to your situation, it may be time to discuss your options with an attorney. Get tips on finding and working with an attorney in a Zantac/ranitidine case.

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