BPI settles with ABC News over defamation lawsuit.
ELK POINT, SD (KTIV) -
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have several things to tell you. The case is settled,” Hon. Cheryle Gering, a Circuit Court Judge said.
A settlement is reached in the Beef Products Incorporated’s civil case against ABC News.
BPI was going after nearly $2 billion from the network, claiming its reports in 2012 misrepresented its signature product, lean finely textured beef. Terms of the settlement were not released.
“As permitted under the law of South Dakota, neither the court, the jury, nor the public will be told the details of the settlement today,” Hon. Gering said. “It is up to the parties to share in future public statements what they wish to disclose if anything about the settlement. What I can tell you is that this case is completely over and will be dismissed.”
As KTIV reported Tuesday, the jury was sent home early after a major legal issue came up Monday night.
The legal issue was a settlement that was in the works. Wednesday, all attorneys with BPI as well as the Roth family were present.
Lead attorney for BPI, Dan Webb says he is extremely pleased with the settlement.
"It's been a long road for BPI. But it was a road that was necessary to have this litigation, to have this trial to rectify the harm that was caused by what we believed to be baseless and bias reporting that occurred in 2012," said Dan Webb, BPI Attorney.
While the Roth family did not make a statement Wednesday following the announcement of the settlement, Webb says they have vindicated BPI's product, "lean finely textured beef."
"We have established that this product is beef. It's nutritious. It's safe. It should be a component in ground beef. And by having this trial and getting this settlement we are convinced that now the company, with this behind them, can move forward, can grow the business and can move forward and establish the vision of the Roth Family and the BPI company," said Webb.
Defendant and ABC reporter Jim Avila thanked the jury for their time and wished they had heard his side of the story from the witness stand.
"I think it's important to note that we are not retracting anything and we are not apologizing for anything. I want people to understand that I understand that it was a business decision and I do support my company's decision," said Jim Avila, ABC News Reporter, defendant.
Avila said that he will be back to work at ABC next week.
The attorneys that were here for ABC left very quickly after court adjourned.
ABC's lead attorney Dane Butswinkas did say to KTIV, he is pleased with the settlement.
The long saga for both sides of this case is finally over.
KTIV’s Michelle Schoening will have updates to this story on News 4 starting Live at 5.
KTIV's Al Joens and Keith Bliven contributed to this report.
Previous story: There is a settlement in the nearly $2 billion "BPI versus ABC news" trial in Union County, South Dakota Wednesday.
It was announced just within the past hour.
Terms of the agreement are being kept confidential.
ABC News reporter Jim Avila, who was named in the suit, says it was a business decision, but he stands by his reporting.
An ABC News spokesperson just released a statement: “ABC has reached an amicable resolution of its dispute with the makers of “lean finely textured beef.” Throughout this case, we have maintained that our reports accurately presented the facts and views of knowledgeable people about this product. Although we have concluded that continued litigation of this case is not in the company’s interests, we remain committed to the vigorous pursuit of truth and the consumer’s right to know about the products they purchase.”
Beef Products Incorporated of Dakota Dunes sued ABC for defamation, claiming a series of reports the network did on it's lean finely textured beef in 2012 decimated their business and forced the company to close three of its four plants that produced its signature product.
KTIV's Michelle Schoening just spoke with Mr. Avila who says he is saddened the jury didn't hear ABCs full side but is happy with the result.