A St. Louis County, Mo., police officer won $600,000 from a homeowner Friday in a civil suit over injuries he suffered investigating a suspected methamphetamine lab, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The judge said he had never heard of a case like it. A jury found in favor of Sgt. David Ryan and against Violet Rademacher. Ryan’s attorney, Rick Barry, argued that Rademacher had a duty to warn Ryan of dangerous chemicals for meth production on the premises. Judge Robert S. Cohen said that, “Around the country, with drug raids and meth labs and anhydrous ammonia and explosions, this could be an area of law that will be developing.”
The judge speculated that an appeal would probably use the legal argument that police and firefighters accept risks of their work and cannot sue property owners for line of duty injuries. County officers went to the home in 2000, to investigate a neighbor’s report of smelling ether, a chemical used in making meth, from a half mile away. They said Violet Rademacher consented to the search. Ryan said he was checking out a jug on the floor of a shed when the spout popped open and anhydrous ammonia fumes engulfed him, causing what he said were permanent injuries.