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S.D. Supreme Court Denies ABC Appeal in ‘Pink Slime’ Defamation Case

By Amanda Brodhagen,

The South Dakota Supreme Court recently refused to hear an ABC News appeal on a lower court ruling to allow Beef Products Inc.’s defamation against the television network to proceed to the discovery phase.

Beef Products Inc., is suing ABC in a $1.2-billion defamation lawsuit over its reporting in 2012, which network and its reporters refer to the beef processing company’s lean finely textured beef as “pink slime.”

The company argues that the network’s coverage misled consumers, allowing them to believe that the product was unsafe to eat, resulting in more than $400-million in lost sales and forcing the company to close three of its four plants.

Interestingly, if a jury would rule in favor of the company, it could claim triple damages. This could be done under the state’s agriculture food disparagement law.  Food libel laws make it easier for food processors like Beef Products Inc., to sue their critics, in this case ABC for libel.

Beef Products Inc., attorney Erik Connolly said in a release that they are pleased with the court’s decision, and is looking forward to starting discovery.

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