Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back and NFL analyst Merril Hoge says exposure to the weedkiller Roundup caused him to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2003.

merril hoge public domain army NFL’s Merril Hoge sues Monsanto, alleges Roundup caused his cancer
Merril Hoge

The former football star has joined thousands of others across the U.S. who have filed lawsuits against Monsanto, which last year became a unit of the German conglomerate Bayer AG. In May, Bayer CEO Werner Baumann told shareholders at a meeting in Bonn, Germany, that Monsanto faces about 13,400 lawsuits, with about 11,200 of those pending in the U.S.

Most of the complaints come from groundskeepers, farmers, and everyday consumers stricken by non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma. According to the plaintiffs, exposure to Roundup caused their cancer, and had they known the health risks posed by glyphosate, they never would have used it.

Mr. Hoge claims he was exposed to Roundup in 1977 while working on an Idaho potato farm. He says in his lawsuit that he “sprayed the popular weed killer all over,” according to TMZ, which reviewed a copy of the complaint.

Like many plaintiffs taking Monsanto to court over alleged Roundup-related illnesses, Mr. Hoge claims Monsanto knew of the chemical’s risks but failed to warn consumers. He alleges that as a result, his exposure to Roundup on the farm caused him “life-threatening” cancer and a “diminished enjoyment of life.”

Bayer continues to deny that Roundup poses any risks, despite the findings of hundreds of scientific studies indicating a probable link between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen.

In April 2019, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS)’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released the results of another highly anticipated Roundup study. The 257-page Draft Toxicological Profile for Glyphosate assessed rodent studies and human epidemiologic research, concluding that glyphosate exposure increased the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) and multiple myeloma.

The potential impact on human health that Roundup poses is even more alarming in light of other studies underscoring how ubiquitous the chemical has become in the environment and in our lives. Last month, the Environmental watchdog Center on Environmental Health tested 12 families for glyphosate levels. The study’s researchers found that 11 of the families tested positive for glyphosate, and in most of the families, the children had higher levels of glyphosate in their bodies than their parents.

The study noted that children may be at an increased risk simply by consuming cereals and grains made from crops that had been genetically modified to resist Roundup sprayings. Children also spend time in parks and playgrounds that have been sprayed with Roundup.

All three of the bellwether cases that have been tried have been decided in favor of the plaintiffs, with massive punitive damages awarded by a jury as punishment for Monsanto’s egregious behavior in downplaying and concealing the risks associated with Roundup.

Beasley Allen is investigating cases involving non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma related to the commercial application of Roundup/glyphosate. For more information, contact John Tomlinson or Rhon Jones in our Toxic Torts Section.

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