ELK POINT, S.D. - ABC News said Thursday it intends to ask a state court in South Dakota to dismiss Beef Products Inc.'s $1.2 billion defamation case against the network.
ABC fought to have the high-profile case heard in U.S. District Court in Sioux Falls, but federal Judge Karen Schreier on Wednesday ordered it returned to Union County Circuit Court, where BPI filed the civil suit last September
"The federal court was very clear that in sending this case to state court it was not expressing any opinion on the merits of the case," ABC said in a statement Thursday. "The court stated that ABC and the other defendants have the right to move to dismiss the case in the state court, and ABC intends to do just that.”
ABC had earlier filed a motion in federal court to dismiss the case.
BPI sued ABC News, its parent company and six individuals, including "World News" anchor Diane Sawyer, over a series of broadcasts and online stories that repeatedly referred to the Dakota Dunes-based company's Lean Finely Textured Beef as "pink slime." The defamatory statements, BPI alleges, caused consumers and customers to lose confidence in the product.
After losing 80 percent of its business in less than a month, the family-owned company was forced to close three of its four plants and cut more than 700 jobs.
South Dakota is one of 13 states with food disparagement laws, which, if BPI prevails in its case, would allow the state court to triple the damages the company is seeking, from $400 million in lost profits to more than $1.2 billion.
ABC has denied it knowingly disparaged BPI or LFTB, or called the meat unsafe. While "pink slime" may be an unappetizing term, the company said, its use is protected under the First Amendment.
Article from: http://siouxcityjournal.com/news/local/a1/with-bpi-suit-back-in-s-d-state-court-abc/article_4ada02e3-954b-513e-9fda-4b91422bfe5e.html