The South Dakota Supreme Court has lifted a stay on the defamation lawsuit filed by Dakota Dunes-based Beef Products Incorporated against ABC News.
ABC had appealed to the state's high court, last month. The network wanted the $1.2-billion lawsuit dismissed. The high court's order, which didn't include an opinion about the merit of the lawsuit, refused ABC's dismissal petition.
That will allow the case will move forward in Union County District Court. In a statement, BPI's attorney Erik Connelly said "we are pleased with the decision by the South Dakota Supreme Court. We look forward to starting discovery."
ABC originally faced 27 counts. In March, a district court judge decided to keep 22 of the counts and dismiss 5 others. The judge said the 5 counts dismissed were superseded by a separate section of South Dakota law, which BPI had already cited in several counts it filed.
BPI claims its business was damaged by ABC News reports that implied the company's signature product, "lean, finely textured beef", was unsafe. The company says the negative publicity led to the closure of three plants, and cost roughly 700 layoffs.
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.
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