Walt Disney Co. paid $177 million, in addition to insurance recoveries, to settle the closely watched “pink slime” defamation case against its ABC network by Beef Products Inc., a quarterly financial report shows.
Privately-held BPI sued American Broadcasting Company (ABC) in 2012 for $5.7 billion, saying it and reporter Jim Avila had defamed the company by using the “pink slime” tag, and making errors and omissions in a series of reports that year.
Disney and BPI, which calls the product “lean finely textured beef,” came to an undisclosed settlement in June, 3-1/2 weeks after a trial began in South Dakota, where BPI is based.
Disney reported the settlement of the litigation in a footnote to its financial report, saying it was seeking additional insurance proceeds to recover its cash payment.
The financial tables show a charge of $177 million described as being “in connection with settlement of litigation.” The figure is not directly linked to the “pink slime” case, but the BPI litigation is the only one Disney specifies in the report.
Reuters could not immediately reach Disney and an attorney for BPI for comment.
In a statement in June, ABC said it stood by its reporting. After the case was settled, Avila said the company was not retracting his stories or apologizing, and his 2012 “pink slime” reports remained on the ABC News website.
BPI’s signature product, commonly mixed into ground beef, is made from beef chunks, including trimmings, and exposed to bursts of ammonium hydroxide to kill E. coli bacteria and other contaminants.
A microbiologist formerly with the U.S. Department of Agriculture is credited with having coined the term “pink slime.”
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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