Arguments begin in BPI defamation lawsuit
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ELK POINT, SD – Lawyers for ABC News asked a judge to dismiss a $1.2 billion product defamation lawsuit filed by Beef Products Inc. (BPI), according to news reports.
BPI sued ABC News alleging the network's coverage of lean finely textured beef (LFTB) misled consumers to believe the product is unsafe. The broadcaster's lawyers are arguing that ABC News never said LFTB was unsafe, and that while the term "pink slime" is unflattering, it does not convey false facts about LFTB. Lawyers for ABC News stood by the reports citing First Amendment protections.
BPI attorneys said the broadcaster defamed the company's LFTB product more than 100 times over four weeks in news reports and social media posts. Attorneys for the processor argued the negative coverage cost the company $400 million in profit and at least 700 workers lost their jobs. ABC News, which is owned by The Walt Disney Co., denied the claims.
Judge Cheryle Gering, who is presiding over oral arguments, did not give a date for her decision.