ABC had to break out the checkbook and make a yuge payment to a company they slandered using fake news. Dakota Dunes-based Beef Products Inc. sued the television network in 2012, ABC aired what was allegedly an expose on the use of what ABC called “pink slime.” Dakota Dunes used scraps of beef to add to hamburger meat. The process passed the muster of the Food and Drug Administration. ABC was being sued for 1.9 billion in actual damages and under the law Dunes was eligible for treble damages.
Dakota Dunes-based Beef Products Inc. sued the television network in 2012, saying ABC’s coverage misled consumers into believing the product is unsafe and led to the closure of three plants and layoffs of roughly 700 workers.
In one report, former USDA scientist Gerald Zirnstein said 70 percent of ground beef contained ‘pink slime’, a food additive made from trimmings and exposed to ammonia gas before it was used as a filler in packages labeled 100 percent beef.
After the reports aired, some grocery store chains said they would stop carrying ground beef that contained the product.
BPI claims sales declined from about five million pounds per week to less than two million pounds per week.
The defamation trial against ABC and correspondent Jim Avila started in June.
Avila and Diane Sawyer both asked the judge in the case to dismiss the lawsuit.
BPI didn’t immediately respond to telephone messages requesting comment.
The actual damages BPI was seeking could have been as high as $1.9billion, according to a US Securities and Exchange Commission filing from Disney, which owns ABC.
BPI was also seeking ‘treble’ damages, or triple the amount, under South Dakota’s Agricultural Food Products Disparagement Act and punitive damages.