Disney paid at least $177 million to settle the “pink slime” defamation suit filed against its ABC News division, according to a footnote in the company’s latest quarterly earnings report.
The amount was listed as “the settlement of litigation” and CNN reported that a lawyer for South Dakota-based meat processor Beef Products Inc. said his client received “even more than $177 million” when its defamation suit was settled in June on then-undisclosed terms.
ABC News did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for confirmation.
Beef Products, Inc. (BPI) had initially filed a $1.9 billion lawsuit against ABC News over a series of 2012 reports by its reporter Jim Avila. BPI refers to its product as “lean finely textured beef,” though Avila repeatedly referred to it as “pink slime.”
Earlier this summer, ABC News issued the following 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.”
In his reports, Avila used the term “pink slime” 137 times to describe the substance, which results when beef trimmings are placed in a centrifuge to separate lean mean from fat and then treated with ammonia to kill E.coli and other bacteria, according to BBC.
BPI has called the reports false and defamatory and claimed that they nearly destroyed the business — the company claimed it lost 80 percent of its revenues and was forced to close three of its four processing plants.