BPI and ABC Reach Settlement

Jun 28, 2017


The Union County Courthouse in Elk Point.
Credit Jeremy Ludemann / SDPB

Beef Products Incorporated has settled its $1.9 billion dollar defamation suit with ABC News and reporter Jim Avila. The announcement came Wednesday morning that the case was settled out of court.

The South Dakota meat producer sued ABC News for March 2012 broadcasts about the product lean finely textured beef. The reports called the product pink slime and referred to the product as a filler and not nutritious.

First Circuit Judge Cheryle Gering made the announcement:  

"The case is settled. As permitted by the law of South Dakota, neither the court the jury, nor the public will be told the terms of the settlement today. It is up to the parties to share in future public statements what they wish to disclose if anything about the settlement," Gering said.

Testimony was canceled Tuesday because of what Gering called a major legal issue. The trial was expected to resume Wednesday. The judge did not say what the legal issue was or if it contributed to the settlement.

 In a press release, ABC spokeswoman Julie Townsend says the network has reached an amicable resolution with the meat company. Townsend says the network remains committed to the vigorous pursuit of truth and the consumer's right to know. A statement from BPI and the Roth family says the agreement provides them with a strong foundation to grow the business. They added that the case allowed them to reestablish that LFTB is beef that is safe, wholesome, and nutritious.  The trial was held at the Union County Courthouse in Elk Point. The county incurred most of the costs to transform a community room in the building's basement into a courtroom. First Circuit Court Administrator Kim Allison says BPI and ABC have agreed to help the county with one of the major costs from the case:  

"The parties actually have agreed to pay Union County for all the juror expenses. So, that's going to be a significant impact on them." 

Allison says jurors in South Dakota earn $50 a day for their service to the court. Twelve jurors and four alternates were selected for the trial. BPI and ABC will pay the county about $15,000 to cover their pay. Attorneys also bought a jury riser and brought in technology for the trial. The county had to incur costs for an upgraded sound system.  The remaining terms of the settlement between the Dakota Dunes-based meat company and the television network are confidential.  The trial was expected to last until late next month.