It’s the beginning of what could be a lengthy court battle between Dakota Dunes–based Beef Products, Inc. and ABC News. BPI is suing ABC and others in a defamation lawsuit worth $1.2 billion dollars. But ABC is asking for the case to be thrown out.
After nearly four hours of arguments on Tuesday afternoon, the owners of Beef Product, Incorporated along with their family and attorneys, filed out of the courtroom in Union County, South Dakota.
Inside, attorneys for BPI and ABC News made their case to judge Cheryle Gering as to why a defamation lawsuit filed by the makers of lean, finely textured beef should be heard… or thrown out of court.
In court Tuesday, attorneys for ABC News argued that the news organization reported fairly on the topic by citing the USDA and FDA, which stated that the product was safe to eat.
They also say critics featured in the reports are protected under the First Amendment and can call the product ‘pink slime.’
“Our defendants have as much right to use the epithet pink slime as the producer does the euphemism Lean Finely Textured Beef,” ABC attorney Kevin Baine said.
But attorneys for BPI say presenting the negative side of the product as part of a news story must be factual. They argue ABC News was not factual in its coverage.
“The objective was to damage BPI’s reputation and ruin its relationship with its customers and they succeeded,” BPI attorney Erik Connolly said.
BPI says the case must continue toward trial if the judge believes a reasonable juror would think the tone of the ABC News reports was meant to damage BPI.
The judge will consider arguments before deciding whether she will issue a written ruling dismissing the $1 billion lawsuit.