ABC News cross-examines BPI's corporate administrator in court
ELK POINT, SD (KTIV) -
The prosecution continues presenting its case in BPI's $1.9-billion defamation lawsuit against ABC News.
A Union County, South Dakota jury heard from an employee Monday who has been with BPI for years before a number of reports came out questioning the nutritional value of its signature product Lean Finely Textured Beef, or LFTB.
Rich Jochum has been the corporate administrator since 2002.
He shared his reaction in court after watching all of ABC News' reports on LFTB starting on March 7, 2012.
"I couldn't believe that they had run that report on March 7th based upon the little interaction that we had had with them and based upon the information that we had provided to them that there wasn't any follow up on that particular information." said Jochum.
But, the defense questioned what information consumers should have the right to know when it comes to BPI's product.
"Is it unreasonable of a consumer to want to know that LFTB is in their ground beef?" asked Dane Butswinkas, an attorney for ABC.
"Beef is in beef. It's impossible really to judge some of those things today and the environment in the environment we're in. I can't tell you what someone else would think is reasonable or not." said Jochum.
There were reports on LFTB by other sources previous to the ABC reports.
Jochum shared why ABC was the only one BPI filed a lawsuit against.
"In addition to just the disparaging or defamatory statements, if we hadn't been damaged then there's no-you have to have damage to support the lawsuit." said Jochum.
The prosecution said BPI's LFTB sales dropped from five million pounds per week to 1.2 million pounds per week from February to April 2012, after some retail chains announced they would discontinue sales of ground beef with LFTB.
But, the defense argued that major customers like McDonald's, Taco Bell and Burger King stopped using LFTB in 2011, bringing sales down before ABC's reports.
The defense will continue cross-examining Jochum Tuesday morning.