Stunning win for Beef Products Inc (BPI) in a $1.9 billion defamation lawsuit against ABC news (Disney Co.)
The civil trial began June 5th and ABC legal executives must have see the writing on the wall as the initial $1.9 billion in damages could have potentially tripled under South Dakota law (treble damages) to $5.7 billion if they allowed the three week trial to continue.
The actual defamation settlement is undisclosed. However, at the point of settlement all reasonable assumptions must be that BPI was well positioned to win far more than the initially demanded settlement amount of $1.9 billion.
(Reuters) – The U.S. ABC television network, owned by Walt Disney Co <DIS.N>, has settled its closely watched defamation lawsuit with Beef Products Inc over news reports on a processed beef product that critics dubbed “pink slime,” both companies said on Wednesday.
Terms of the settlement, which also covered the Beef Products Inc (BPI) claims against ABC reporter Jim Avila, were not disclosed.
Privately-held BPI had claimed that the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) and Avila defamed the company by calling its processed beef product “pink slime” and making errors and omissions in a series of 2012 reports. BPI calls the product “lean finely textured beef.”
BPI attorney Dan Webb told Reuters the settlement came together “quickly this week,” but declined to provide details, citing a confidentiality agreement signed by both parties.
The settlement came 3-1/2 weeks after the trial in the case got under way in Elk Point, South Dakota, around 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Sioux City, Iowa. BPI is based in nearby Dakota Dunes, South Dakota. (read more)
The ramifications of this $1.9+ Billion defamation lawsuit victory will extend far beyond the media settlement in this case and will surely send a massive shock-wave through every media enterprise engaged in investigative and opinion journalism.