Shook Science Strength Contributes to ‘Blockbuster Ruling’

A Florida judge granted summary judgment in favor of multiple global drug manufacturers on claims of cancer from use of a heartburn medication. A leading legal publication declared the judge’s decision a “blockbuster ruling.”

On December 7, 2022, the Court issued a 341-page Opinion that provided a detailed road map and rationale explaining why the opinions put forth by experts for the plaintiffs were not reliable and therefore must be excluded. The Court clearly explained numerous methodological flaws that provided multiple, independent grounds for the exclusion of the plaintiffs’ experts. As an initial matter, the Court noted that “no scientist outside this litigation” has concluded that the drug’s active ingredient causes cancer. Moreover, to arrive at their opinions, “Plaintiffs’ scientists within this litigation systemically utilized unreliable methodologies with a lack of documentation on how experiments were conducted, a lack of substantiation for analytical leaps, a lack of statistically significant data, and a lack of internally consistent, objective, science-based standards for the evenhanded evaluation of data.”

The federal ruling involves nearly 50,000 claims.

Shook played a lead role as Science and Discovery Counsel in the multidistrict litigation deposing experts and developing the Federal Rule 702/Daubert strategy. Rule 702 is the law governing whether expert witness testimony is based on reliable scientific methods, reliably applied to the facts of the case. The Shook litigation and science team included Partners Jennifer Hill, Patrick Oot, Kimberly Penner, Tom Sheehan, Gabriel Egli, Christopher Cotton, Hildy Sastre, Michelle Mangrum, Senior Counsels Valerie Blevins, Evan Montgomery, Attorney Sarah McIntosh and Associates Peiyuan Guo, Ricky Brown, Daniel Cummings and Adam Shoshtari, along with the invaluable contributions of many other Shook colleagues from across the firm.   

The Wall Street Journal, The American Lawyer and Law360, among other publications, covered the outcome of the case. ALM selected Shook, along with others, as Runners Up for “Litigators of the Week.” Law360 reported the result as one of three “Top Product Liability Cases of 2022.”

The case is In Re: Zantac (Ranitidine) Products Liability Litigation, No. 9:20-md-02924 (S.D. Fla., December 7, 2022).