ABC News is Being Sued Over “Pink Slime” Reports

Beef Products, Inc., a South Dakota meat processing plant has filed a 1.2 million dollar defamation suit against ABC News, accusing it of misleading viewers into believing that “pink slime” is unsafe.

In court papers, the company said ABC falsely told viewers that its beef product was not safe, not healthy and not even meat, resulting in the 31-year-old company’s loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in profit and roughly half its employees.

“The lawsuit is without merit,” Jeffrey Schneider, senior vice president of ABC News, a unit of Walt Disney Co, said in a statement. “We will contest it vigorously.”

Six individuals were also sued, including ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer and the reporters Jim Avila and David Kerley.

ABC conducted a “sustained and vicious disinformation campaign,” Beef Products’ lawyer Dan Webb, chairman of Winston & Strawn and a former U.S. attorney in Chicago, said at a press briefing.

“To call a food product slime is the most pejorative term that could be imagined. ABC’s constant repetition of it, night after night after night, had a huge impact on the consuming public.”

The other defendants are Gerald Zirnstein, a former U.S. Department of Agriculture microbiologist credited with coining the term “pink slime;” former USDA employee Carl Custer and former Beef Products employee Kit Foshee. All appeared or were quoted in ABC’s reports.

William Marler, a lawyer for Zirnstein and Custer, said: “The complaint is completely bogus and frivolous, and we will defend these public employees vigorously.”

Read entire story by Jonathan Stempl at Reuters.com

Beef Products, Inc. has accused ABC of interfering with it’s business dealings with grocery chains and of product disparagement.  If you feel your business has been negatively impacted by false or misleading statements by others, the Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association can help with a referral to a competent attorney who specifically handles defamation matters.  Call 603-229-0002 or complete the online request form.

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