ABC News asks judge to dismiss BPI suit

Lawyers for ABC News have asked a judge in South Dakota to dismiss the defamation suit brought by Beef Products Incorporated over lean, finely textured beef (LFTB). ABC’s legal counsel argued that while the term “pink slime” used repeatedly in the news stories may be “unflattering” it is not inaccurate. They contend the product is pink and, like ground beef, has a slimy texture.

BPI filed suit in September under South Dakota’s defamation law and a 1994 state law which makes it illegal to knowingly spread false information about a food product’s safety. ABC says the reports never said the product was unsafe.

The company seeks $400 million in compensatory damages, which could triple under South Dakota law as well as punitive damages from ABC News, news anchor Diane Sawyer, reporters Jim Avila and David Kerley and former USDA microbiologist Gerald Zirnstein who coined the term “pink slime” in an email to colleagues in 2002.

Last week ABC filed to have the case moved from state court to federal court in South Dakota.

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