Utah Cops Not Winning Meth Lab Health Claims


Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Sgt. Gary Sterner ticked off the ailments he attributes to methamphetamine exposure: Headaches, joint pain, esophageal problems. “Let’s see. What else,” Sterner said. “Memory loss,” replied his lawyer, Susan Black Dunn. Science has not yet supported the claims made by police officers like Sterner. Neither has Utah law, says the Salt Lake Tribune. The Utah Labor Commission has dismissed 19 cases filed by the so-called “Meth Cops” or their survivors seeking workers compensation benefits. Many cases were dismissed at the requests of the officers, who wanted more time to find evidence that busting meth labs contributed to their ailments before they refile their claims.

Eight cases remain because a judge says or opposing sides agree there is enough evidence to proceed. It’s far from certain those officers ultimately will have their claims upheld. Black Dunn, who represents about half of the dismissed and pending cases, concedes there is no definitive study linking meth exposure to the ailments described by her clients. And because every officer has received individual treatment, no doctors are aware of any clusters. Scientists in the occupational health field might also be willing to support the cops, she said. “We’re trying to forge new territory,” Black Dunn said. “We’re blazing the trail.”

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