Judge allows most of BPI defamation claim against ABC News to go - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Judge allows most of BPI defamation claim against ABC News to go to trial


A judge will allow most of the counts to proceed to trial in the $1.2-billion defamation claim Beef Products Incorporated filed against ABC News.

BPI filed the suit claiming the network damaged BPI by misleading consumers into believing that its signature product, Lean, Finely Textured Beef, is unhealthy and unsafe. ABC News used the term "pink slime" to refer to LFTB.

ABC says it's a matter of free speech, and that each of its broadcasts stated that the FDA deemed the product safe to eat.

At a hearing, in Elk Point, last December, lawyers for ABC asked a judge to dismiss all 27 counts it faced. Thursday, a judge dismissed just five of the counts, and ordered a trial on the other 22 counts. Judge Cheryle Gering said the five counts she dismissed were superseded by a separate section of South Dakota common law, which BPI had already cited in several other counts it filed.

But, the judge also said the five dismissed counts, which deal with "disparagement for false implications", could still be considered. That consideration could only come as they relate to count 26. Count 26 deals with "statutory product disparagement" under South Dakota common law.

BPI's attorney, Erik Connolly, says he's "pleased with the Court's decision." Connolly says he's looking forward to presenting his case to a jury. No trial date has been set.

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