ABC News’s ‘pink slime’ settlement is historically large: report

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Disney paid at least $177 million to settle a defamation lawsuit over a series of ABC News reports about a meat processing company’s use of lean, finely textured beef product, CNN Money reported Wednesday.

Disney noted in its quarterly earnings report that it spent $177 million “in connection with the settlement of litigation.” According to CNN Money, at least some of that was tied to the pink slime lawsuit, though it’s not clear how much.

An attorney for the meat processing company, Beef Products Inc. (BPI), said its settlement was worth more than $177 million.

{mosads}Dan Webb, one of BPI’s attorneys, told CNN that even $177 million would rank as the largest settlement ever paid out in a media defamation lawsuit in U.S. history. 

“Based on all the research we’ve done, that alone would make it the largest,” he said.

BPI sued ABC News, anchor Diane Sawyer and reporter Jim Avila in 2012 for $1.9 billion, which the company said was “necessary to begin rectifying the harm” inflicted by the news reports.

Because a food libel law in South Dakota, where BPI is headquartered, calls for triple damages to be paid by those found guilty of misleading consumers about the safety of food products, ABC News faced the possibility of a roughly $6 billion payment.

Claims against Sawyer, a former anchor on ABC News’s “World News Tonight,” were dismissed before the jury trial began in June.

That lawsuit was settled later that month, though the exact amount of the settlement has not been made public.

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