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Copyright 2005 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Inc.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri)

August 2, 2005 Tuesday

Officer sues drug felon over injuries from raid He says he suffered lung damage at lab

BY MATTHEW HATHAWAY Of the Post-Dispatch

Franklin County sheriff's Cpl. Jason Grellner, one of Missouri's best-known crusaders against methamphetamine, is suing a convicted meth cook, claiming permanent lung damage from inhaling an ingredient during a raid.

The suit, filed last week in Franklin County, names Troy J. Manning, 40, of Gray Summit. He is serving a five-year sentence in federal prison for conspiracy to make meth and conspiracy to possess pseudoephedrine, a common meth ingredient. The suit seeks unspecified damages from Manning.

Grellner has helped lead the push to restrict access to pseudoephedrine cold pills used to make meth. That crusade has turned the 36-year-old officer into an unofficial spokesman for Missouri meth investigators.

According to the suit, Grellner was diagnosed with permanent lung damage after he was injured during a meth investigation at Manning's home in May 2002. The suit says Grellner was exposed to anhydrous ammonia, a toxic farm fertilizer sometimes used to make meth.

Grellner's attorney said the officer opened a cooler in Manning's front yard that Grellner suspected to have contained crushed lithium batteries used to make meth. Instead, the container was filled with anhydrous ammonia.

"He was enveloped in a toxic cloud that immediately and permanently caused damage to his lungs and respiratory system," said Rick Barry, Grellner's attorney, in a prepared statement.

Grellner said that, on the advice of Barry, he would not discuss details of the exposure. But he said the incident forced him to change the way he works. He isn't allowed to go inside meth labs anymore, which can make his job as commander of Franklin County's drug task force difficult. He said he suffered from persistent, asthma-like symptoms.

In February, a jury awarded $600,000 to a St. Louis County police officer who claimed to have suffered similar injuries. Barry also represented that officer, Sgt. David Ryan, in his suit against a property owner in Eureka.

August 3, 2005
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