ELK POINT, SD – A South Dakota judge declined to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by Beef Products Inc. (BPI) against ABC, according to news reports.

BPI sued ABC News challenging the network's coverage of lean finely textured beef (LFTB). In November 2012, lawyers for ABC News filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed. Judge Cheryl Gering, who is presiding over oral arguments in the case, dismissed some claims, but allowed others to go forward.

Attorneys for BPI argued that ABC News defamed the company's LFTB product more than 100 times over four weeks in news reports and social media posts. The negative coverage cost the company $400 million in profit and at least 700 workers lost their jobs, lawyers said.

Named in the lawsuit were: television news anchor Diane Sawyer; senior national correspondent Jim Avila; ABC News correspondent David Kerley; Gerald Zirnstein, a former US Department of Agriculture employee who claims to have coined the term “pink slime”; Carl Custer, also a former USDA employee; and Kit Foshee, a former BPI employee.

BPI is seeking more than $1 billion in damages for defamation, product and food disparagement and tortious interference with business relationships.