The lead attorney for Beef Products Inc. (BPI) contends ABC News continued to present false and misleading information about lean finely textured beef (LFTB) even after it was provided with factual information about the product by BPI and third parties.
BPI announced Thursday that it has filed a one-point-two billion dollar defamation lawsuit against ABC News. The lawsuit alleges that the television network misled consumers to believe LFTB is unhealthy and unsafe.
And attorney Dan Webb says they will also seek punitive damages.
“This is not an example of some news organization making some mistake—that didn’t happen here,” Webb says. “This was conduct by ABC made knowingly, willingly and with malice, after being advised of what the truth was.”
Brownfield asked Webb if he had any insight into ABC’s motivation, and whether their actions may have been driven by vegan or anti-meat activists on ABC’s staff.
“One of the issues we will try to pinpoint is ‘what was the motivation in causing ABC to take on this vendetta to decimate this company’,” Webb says. “ABC News was having some ratings issues at the time, but I’m not going to attribute a motivation to ABC until I’ve had a chance to take the evidence and dig down into what motivated the reporters in engaging in this sustained course of misconduct.”
The lawsuit against ABC also names several individuals as defendants, including ABC news anchor Diane Sawyer and reporters Jim Avila and David Kerley.
In a statement, Jeffrey Schneider, senior vice president of ABC News, says the lawsuit is “without merit” and that the network “will contest it vigorously.”