Settlement reached in 'pink slime' defamation lawsuit


Settlement reached in 'pink slime' defamation lawsuit

BPI filed a $1.9 billion defamation lawsuit against ABC and correspondent Jim Avila in September 2012, claiming that ABC knowingly used false information about BPI's Lean Finely Textured Beef and interfered with its business relationships with its customers.

ABC News has settled a defamation lawsuit filed by the maker of a processed-meat product that critics dubbed "pink slime", bringing to a close a high-profile legal test of so-called food-libel laws meant to shield the food-production industry from bogus food-safety scares. No terms of the settlement were revealed. BPI is based in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota.

The trial began on June 5, and the case was seen as having large potential ramifications for the media industry and for ABC. BPI and its family owners say that the lawsuit was hard, but necessary to start rectifying the harm suffered as a result of ABC's reports on their product, which critics dubbed "pink slime".

In the suit, BPI alleged that ABC misled viewers by calling "lean finely textured beef" (LFTB) "pink slime".

ABC maintains its reports were correct and has said its reporting deserved protection under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and the press.

ABC spokeswoman Julie Townsend said in a statement that the network has "reached an amicable resolution of its dispute with the makers" of the beef product. Neither Townsend nor BPI immediately responded to telephone messages requesting comment.

"We're not retracting anything".

The trial had been expected to last eight weeks. The company had around 1,300 employees before the reports.

"If inaccurate information is being put out there by a news organization, particularly one with a powerful reach, it can cause tremendous damage", he said.