ELK POINT, SD – A judge granted two defendants a 30-day extension to respond to a defamation lawsuit filed by Beef Products Inc. (BPI), according to news reports.

Attorneys for Carl Custer and Gerald Zirnstein, both former US Department of Agriculture employees, have until Nov. 19 to file a response to the lawsuit in Union County Circuit Court. BPI agreed to the extension.

BPI filed a defamation lawsuit Sept. 13 against ABC News alleging the network’s news coverage of lean finely textured beef (LFTB) misled consumers to believe the company’s product was unhealthy and unsafe. Other defendants in the lawsuit are: television news anchor Diane Sawyer; senior national correspondent Jim Avila; ABC News correspondent David Kerley; and Kit Foshee, a former BPI employee.

Bill Marler, a Seattle-based attorney who specializes in food safety litigation, is representing Zirnstein and Custer.