BPI attorney: Settlement with ABC exceeds $177M

Report: Disney Paid $177 Million to Settle $5.7 Billion Lawsuit with BPI

Report: Disney Paid $177 Million to Settle $5.7 Billion Lawsuit with BPI

ABC News learned that sliming a company can cost a lot of money.

In a report filed by ABC's owner, Disney, with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the report reads that Disney paid $177 million "in connection with the settlement of litigation".

A legal settlement between ABC and a South Dakota meat producer in a defamation lawsuit over the network's reports on a beef product that critics dubbed "pink slime" exceeded $177 million, an attorney for the producer said Wednesday. That is roughly the annual ad revenue for World News, CNN said. The $177 million payout thus allowed Disney to avoid rolling the dice on a verdict and facing years of uncertainty on appeal.

Disney isn't specifying where the money went, but the report cites an attorney for BPI who told CNN that the settlement was worth even more than $177 million.

ABC and South Dakota-based Beef Products Inc. announced their settlement in June, but its terms are confidential.

Even if the total was more than $177 million, that figure pales in comparison to Beef Products, Inc.'s original claim that ABC News' "false and disparaging" statements about "pink slime" during a 2012 report caused the company $1.9 billion in damages. ABC reporting against LFTB spanned two entire months, often driven by correspondent Jim Avila and the "whistleblowers" he interviewed. Following the broadcasts, demand for LFTB dropped and the company was forced to downsize dramatically. However, five years later, ABC News continues to stand by the original report, as can be seen in their public statement made at the conclusion of the trial. The network had reported that the meat product wasn't unsafe, but said Beef Products didn't disclose what was in the meat.

The trial centered around BPI's main product, which was made from beef chunks, including trimmings, as well as ammonium hydroxide to kill E. coli and other bacteria.

ABC News was among several organizations, including The New York Times, to report on questions about the safety of the product, which was commonly incorporated into foodstuff sold in grocery stores and used in schools and fast-food restaurants. "That didn't get lost on the jury".

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