ABC News Settled Pink Slime Suit for At Least $177 Million

By Chris Ariens 

In a footnote on page 1 and again on page 8 of its third quarter earnings release The Walt Disney Company makes note of a $177 million charge affecting its earnings.

That charge comes from ABC News settling a defamation lawsuit over its reporting of so-called pink slime. Beef Products Inc. (BPI) sued ABC News and correspondent Jim Avila for $1.9 billion dollars over what it claimed were “false and misleading and defamatory” statements about its product known as Lean Finely Textured Beef.

After 5 years of pre-trial, the case went before a South Dakota judge in early June. It was settled a few weeks later. And now we know how much ABC paid at least $177 million, but likely more, which will be covered by insurance. From the earnings report:

Items affecting comparability during the quarter and nine month period ended July 1, 2017 related to a charge, net of committed insurance recoveries, incurred in connection with the settlement of litigation ($177 million).

CNN talked with an lawyer for BPI who says the settlement is the largest amount paid by a media company in a defamation case. “Based on all the research we’ve done, that alone would make it the largest. As I said at the time, we got an extraordinarily favorable settlement,” said attorney Dan Webb.