Published: Fri, August 11, 2017
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

The 'Pink Slime' Debacle Cost Disney and ABC at Least $177 Million

The 'Pink Slime' Debacle Cost Disney and ABC at Least $177 Million

"As Disney disclosed, $177 million is not the total settlement amount".

ABC News made an historically large payout to settle a defamation lawsuit earlier this summer, according to a new financial release from the network's parent company Disney and an attorney for the plaintiff. The company didn't immediately respond to an email requesting comment from The Associated Press.

The outcome likely reflects fears by Disney that jurors in the trial would feel sympathy for a home-state industry over an eastern media outlet. "But we often see an uptick in cases after big verdicts or settlements, even if those cases do not have merit".

Their report said the 300 million pounds of lean, finely textured beef that would have been produced through the end of 2012 was worth $273 million, with another $300 million in lost sales "through economic multiplier effects".

In a statement at the time, Beef Products Inc said: "We are extraordinarily pleased to have reached a settlement of our lawsuit against ABC and Jim Avila".

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ABC News reported on the product in 2012, referring to the product as "pink slime" at least 137 times, according to BPI lawyers. The two sides settled very rapidly, just three weeks into the South Dakota meat producer's case, and ABC's official statement calling it "an amicable resolution" was conspicuously devoid of an apology or retraction. ABC insisted that it still stood by its reporting, but there was little doubt who emerged the victor in the dispute. "Although we concluded that continued litigation of this case is not in the Company's interests, we remain committed to the vigorous pursuit of truth ant the consumer's right to know about the products they purchase".

Local news reports described a celebratory reaction from members of the BPI party when the settlement was announced inside the courtroom.

The settlement of $177 million is only 3.2 percent of the value the lawsuit could have netted under South Dakota's Agricultural Food Products Disparagement Act that triples the value to $5.7 billion.

Meanwhile, Beef Products appears set to collect significantly more than the $177 million figure, which came to late this week when Disney stated quarterly earnings.

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