A pink slime lawsuit alleging that ABC News defamed a South Dakota-based meat processor has little chance of succeeding, legal experts say.
The meat processor, Beef Products Inc., is claiming that ABC’s coverage of the meat product that critics call “pink slime” damaged the company by causing customers to falsely believe that the product is unhealthy and unsafe, The Associated Press reported.
To win the pink slime lawsuit, Beef Products Inc. must prove that ABC knowingly provided false information and intended to harm the business. Though the company’s lawyers expressed confidence that they would win the suit, defamation and food-law experts say otherwise, The Associated Press reported.
It will take extreme evidence to prove that, said University of Wisconsin journalism professor Bob Drechsel, who teaches media law.
“It’s always an uphill battle for anyone to win a libel suit,” Drechsel told The Associated Press. “They’re going to have to prove that ABC falsely reported information, and they’re going to have to prove that ABC News knew that the stories were false or they had serious doubts about the truth.”
There is a long list of individuals and companies named in the 257-page pink slime lawsuit, including American Broadcasting Companies Inc., ABC News Inc., ABC news anchor Diane Sawyer, and ABC correspondents Jim Avila and David Kerley.
The report said that pink slime is made with “low-grade meat” including “scraps” and “waste.” The pink slime lawsuit also claims that ABC referred to the meat as made from connective animal tissue when it is actually made from muscle. The company blames the closing of three plants and close to 700 layoffs on what it views as a smear campaign from ABC.
Beef Products is the largest US producer of lean ground beef filler made from fatty trimmings, NBCNews.com reported. Before being used as filler, the trimmings are sprayed with amonia to kill bacteria. Though this filler meets food safety standards, some have questioned whether it is harmful to health, and companies like McDonalds Corp. have stopped buying it.
The pink slime lawsuit is seeking $1.2 billion in damages from ABC for what it claims are 200 “false and misleading and defamatory” statements about the product.