‘Pink Slime’ Case Against ABC News May Be Difficult to Win

By Chris Ariens 

Many lawyers and journalism experts agree that the lawsuit filed by Beef Products, Inc. (BPI) against ABC News, may be difficult to win.

The AP: “A jury may have a very difficult time finding the news stories involved here were defamatory, or that there was any intent to harm the company.” – Neil Hamilton, Drake University professor/Dir. of the Agricultural Law Center in Des Moines.

The Washington Post: “I would say they have a very high burden of proving that ABC knew what they said was false at the time they said it,” said Laura Handman, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine in Washington.


Ad Age: “…there’s a strong First Amendment, public policy [reason], for courts to throw these cases out of court right out of the gate.” – Randall Miller, a partner with Arnold & Porter law firm in Virginia.

In fact, when Food Lion sued ABC in the 1990s — at first successfully, until it was overturned by the Court of Appeals — the grocery chain sued for tort, as a way to get around strict First Amendment standards for defamation. In that case, two Primetime Live staffers posed as Food Lion employees and videotaped — with cameras hidden in wigs — unsanitary practices. A jury originally awarded Food Lion $5.5 million dollars. BPI is seeking $1.2 billion in damages.