ABC News Reaches Settlement in "Pink Slime" Case

ABC World News Diane Sawyer - H 2016
Courtesy of ABC

The network was sued by Beef Products Inc. in a multibillion-dollar defamation case.

A massively significant case dating back to 2012 ABC reports about a meat product has been settled after the company that produced it, Beef Products Inc., sued the network in a multibillion-dollar defamation case. The product, described by its producer as "lean finely textured beef," was described by ABC as "pink slime" several hundred times.

In a statement Wednesday morning, ABC said: "ABC has reached an amicable resolution of its dispute with the makers of 'lean finely textured beef.' Throughout this case, we have maintained that our reports accurately presented the facts and views of knowledgeable people about this product. Although we have concluded that continued litigation of this case is not in the company’s interests, we remain committed to the vigorous pursuit of truth and the consumer’s right to know about the products they purchase.”

"While this has not been an easy road to travel, it was necessary to begin rectifying the harm we suffered as a result of what we believed to be biased and baseless reporting in 2012," BPI said in its own statement.

The trial began on June 5, and the case was seen as having large potential ramifications for the media industry and for ABC. Both sides tapped high-powered attorneys to help make their case, with BPI arguing to a jury of 12 that ABC unfairly and with "actual malice" destroyed the company's business and ABC arguing that its coverage was factual and that it did not coin the term "pink slime." 

BPI, in September 2012, sued ABC, news anchor Diane Sawyer and star correspondent Jim Avila, though Sawyer was later dropped from the suit. The company claimed damages of nearly $2 billion. The case, while significant for BPI and for ABC parent company Disney, has not received a tremendous amount of media coverage.