Beef Products Inc., a company which earlier this year was subject to vicious and misleading attacks by ABC News is fighting back. The company filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking $1.2 Billion in damages for losses it alleges it sustained after ABC aired a series of stories attacking the company.
The series, which drew tens of millions of viewers, has been widely rebuked by the meat industry, the USDA, senators, governors, and, perhaps most tellingly, a number of consumer food-safety advocacy groups. Articles appearing in the NY Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and Food Quality Magazine (The Battle Over Pink Slime), among many others sought to defend BPI as a safe and innovative company making a healthy product. Unfortunately, by that point, it was too late to save BPI from taking substantial losses. The company was forced to suspend operations at three of its four plants.
Jim Avila, who reported the stories, has been named as a defendant in the case, as have Diane Sawyer and former USDA employee Gerald Zirnstein. Proponents of BPI contend that the withering attacks were dependent upon the use of misleading information and emotive keywords and phrases like “Pink Slime.” Today, in spite of compelling evidence supporting BPI, ABC News is not backing down. Jeffrey W. Schneider, Senior Vice President, ABC News said in response to the filing, “The lawsuit is without merit. We will contest it vigorously.”