BPI ATTORNEY: "Clearly a vendetta that destroyed this company"
By Forrest Saunders, Multimedia Journalist - email
DAKOTA DUNES, S.D. (AP/KTIV) -
Beef Products Incorporated, it took 30 years to build. But BPI officials say it was decimated in less than 30 days. They blame stories by ABC News, and are now suing the network for more than one billion dollars in damages.
Beef Products Inc. has filed a defamation lawsuit against ABC News for its coverage of their meat product, which critics dubbed "pink slime." Company officials say the controversy forced them to close three of their four plants, cut 700 jobs, and cost them $400 million in profit.
"There's no doubt that ABC has caused significant damage. It's going to be hard to overcome," said Nick Roth, with the company.
The Dakota Dunes based company alleges the network misled consumers to believe LFTB is unhealthy and unsafe. BPI attorney Dan Webb called ABC's actions a "vendetta." He could only guess the network's motivation.
"I will say in passing, ABC News was facing some ratings issues at the time. But, whether that was the motivation, I can't say. I haven't had adequate time to get discovery," said Webb.
The more than 250 page complaint was filed in a South Dakota court, Thursday. It says ABC News made roughly 200 "false," "misleading" and "defamatory" statements about the product. It also accuses the network of interfering with relationships between BPI and its customers. The company is asking for $1.2 billion.
BPI officials say they're working to restore their company's reputation. But, despite their losses, they were clear; filing for bankruptcy protection isn't on the table.
"Nothing that we have evaluated at this point leads us to believe that any such action is necessary now, or in the future," said BPI Corporate Administrator Rich Jochum.
If you want to check out the complaint for yourself, here's a link.
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