ABC Settles $5.7 Billion 'Pink Slime' Lawsuit with BPI

A settlement has been reached by ABC News and Beef Products Inc. (BPI) in the $5.7 billion lawsuit filed against ABC for a story that allegedly misled consumers and caused three beef processing plants to close in 2012.

It is not clear how much money BPI was awarded by ABC as terms of the settlement are confidential.

“We are extraordinarily pleased to have reached a settlement of our lawsuit against ABC and Jim Avila,” according to a statement from BPI. “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.” 

ABC ran a series of news stories on lean finely textured beef (LFTB) allegedly making errors and omitting information from BPI in their reporting.

According to a BPI accounts, the stories ran by ABC called the product “pink slime” 137 times. BPI alleged the network was intending to do harm when it referred to the product as “pink slime.”

Grocery stores and schools stopped using LFTB in ground beef forcing the shutdown of processing facilities in Kansas, Texas and Iowa. Revenues for the company dropped by 80%.

In a statement ABC says the settlement was “amicable resolution.”

The ABC statement went onto say, “Throughout this case, we have maintained that our reports accurately presented the facts and views of knowledgeable people about this product. Although we concluded that continued litigation of this case is not in the Company’s interests, we remain committed to the vigorous pursuit of truth ant the consumer’s right to know about the products they purchase.”

The lawsuit filed by BPI sought $1.9 billion in damages and under South Dakota's Agricultural Food Products Disparagement Act the value would triple to $5.7 billion. The trial began on June 5 in Elk Point, South Dakota and was expected to last eight weeks. The settlement was reached 3.5 weeks into the trial.

“Through this process, we have again established what we all know to be true about Lean Finely Textured Beef: it is beef, and is safe, wholesome, and nutritious,” BPI statement says.