Beef Products Incorporated has filed a lawsuit against ABC News. Dan Webb, BPI's chief legal counsel, filed the lawsuit in Union County court on Thursday morning. Webb says BPI is taking legal action against ABC News for what he calls a long-term sustained viscous attack on BPI and its product lean finely textured beef.
According to Webb, the suit lays out 200 false and misleading statements made by ABC News over a 30 day period that began on March 7, 2012. BPI maintains that its business has been severely harmed by ABC's course of conduct and wants a jury to award the company actual and consequential (punitive) damages in excess of $400 million dollars. During Thursday's press conference Webb said he expected the final award to be $1 billion dollars for actual damages and another $1 billion dollars in punitive fees.
"The lawsuit is without merit," said Jeffrey Schneider, Senior Vice President of ABC News, "We will contest it vigorously."
Below are excerpts of the lawsuit laying out BPI's claims against ABC News:
In this lawsuit, BPI seeks to hold Defendants responsible for the consequences of their actions. Counts I through XVIII (1-18) assert claims based on Defendants' false statements. Counts I through IX (1-9) assert claims for defamation, and Counts X through XVIII (10-18) assert claims for product disparagement. In these counts, BPI contends that Defendants published and republished the following types of false statements regarding BPI and LFTB: a. Defendants falsely stated that LFTB was "pink slime";
b. Defendants falsely stated that LFTB was not beef or meat;
c. Defendants falsely stated that LFTB was a "filler" added to ground beef;
d. Defendants falsely stated that LFTB was a "substitute" for beef;
e. Defendants falsely stated that selling ground beef that included LFTB was "economic fraud" or "food fraud";
f. Defendants falsely stated that LFTB is made from "waste," "scraps," "low grade" beef trimmings and "low quality" beef trimmings "contaminated" with "excrement";
g. Defendants falsely stated that LFTB is made from beef trimmings that were "once used only for dog food and cooking oil";
h. Defendants falsely stated that LFTB is "more like gelatin" than beef; and
i. Defendants falsely stated that LFTB's "protein comes mostly from connective tissue."
23. Finally, BPI brings claims against the ABC Defendants based on their interference with BPI's business relationships with grocery store chains and ground beef processors.
Count XXVII (27) asserts a claim for tortious interference. In this count, BPI contends that the ABC Defendants intentionally interfered with BPI's business relationships by among other things, engaging in the disinformation campaign against BPI and LFTB, manufacturing a consumer backlash against LFTB and grocery stores that sold ground beef containing LFTB, and blacklisting grocery stores that sold ground beef containing LFTB.
24. In this lawsuit, BPI seeks recovery of actual and consequential damages in excess of $400 million, statutory and treble damages pursuant to South Dakota's Agricultural Food Products Disparagement Act and punitive damages. BPI will establish the exact amount of damage caused by Defendants' misconduct at trial.
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