Merril Hoge is one of a growing number of people filing lawsuits against Monsanto Co. for alleged cancerous aftereffects of its popular herbicide Roundup.
The Pocatello native and his attorney Joseph Osborne of Florida announced the news Wednesday after filing the lawsuit a couple weeks ago against Monsanto, a subsidiary company of Bayer.
Hoge, a former NFL and Idaho State University football player, is alleging his bout with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2003 was the result of exposure to Roundup.
His experience with the herbicide lasted years and began in 1977 at Chubbuck’s Shiozawa Farms, according to his lawsuit. Hoge “mixed and sprayed Roundup on crops and other plants as part of his job duties,” his lawsuit states.
Osborne said Hoge is seeking monetary damages from Monsanto, but an exact dollar amount has not yet been determined.
“We believe the dangerous product, Roundup, caused Mr. Hoge’s cancer,” Osborne said. “So we filed a lawsuit seeking coverage for pain and suffering for him both emotionally and physically, both in the past and future as well as any relevant economic damages we can claim.”
Osborne said another goal of the lawsuit is to bring awareness to the alleged dangers of Roundup. The attorney said Hoge is “trying to bring additional notice and attention to the fact that Roundup is still on the market, still being sold.”
A 2019 University of Washington study stated that those exposed to glyphosate — an active ingredient of Roundup — had a 41 percent increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wrote that glyphosate “is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”
The EPA’s conclusion is cited by Bayer’s website, Bayer.com, which says glyphosate is not carcinogenic and can be used safely.
Hoge’s lawsuit is not a class-action case, but the Fort Thomas, Kentucky, resident’s complaint was transferred to the multi-district litigation against Monsanto over Roundup and is being heard in federal court in northern California.
“As opposed to multiple different judges handling cases involving similar facts, the federal courts will assign that litigation to one judge,” Osborne said, “so there’s an efficiency of how the cases are handled, how the discovery part of it is handled and how it is decided.”
Osborne said Hoge had not made the alleged connection between his use of Roundup and his diagnosed non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that’s in remission until the plethora of other recent lawsuits over Roundup were filed, adding that about 18,000 people have filed lawsuits against Monsanto regarding Roundup’s alleged harmful effects.
Some of the cases have already resulted in multi-million-dollar rewards for plaintiffs.
“He’s a very clean-living guy, obviously former athlete, doesn’t smoke, has no history of cancer in his family and we’ve been unable to point to anything as the cause of his non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, except for his long history of Roundup exposure,” Osborne said about Hoge.