BPI reaches settlement with ABC
After 18 days of deliberation between Beef Products Inc. (BPI) and ABC in the Union County courthouse, Circuit Court Judge Cheryle Gering told jury members on June 27, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have many things to tell you this morning. First of all, the case is settled. Neither the court, nor the jury, nor the public will be told the terms of the settlement today. The case is over.”
This news puts to rest a landmark case where BPI was seeking $1.9 billion in a defamation suit against ABC for repeatedly referring to its signature product, lean finely textured beef (LFTB) as “pink slime.”
BPI argued that the reports, which aired in 2012, were so damaging that the company was forced to close three of its four plants across the U.S. after they aired on ABC.
While the terms of the settlement are confidential, BPI is feeling vindicated with the final agreement falling in their favor.
“We are extraordinarily pleased to have reached a settlement of our lawsuit against ABC and Jim Avila,” said Dean Webb, BPI’s attorney. “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. Through this process, we have again established what we all know to be true about LFTB: it is beef, and is safe, wholesome, and nutritious. This agreement provides us with a strong foundation on which to grow the business, while allowing us to remain focused on achieving the vision of the Roth and BPI family.”
While leaving the courtroom, ABC reporter Jim Avila thanked the jury but admitted no fault in his role broadcasting the “pink slime” stories.
“I wish they had had the chance to hear my side of the story,” said Avila. “It’s important to note we’re not retracting anything. We’re not apologizing for anything.”
Julie Townsend, a spokeswoman for ABC said, “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 in 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.”