Lawsuits tend to move slowly, so you probably won’t remember that back in September of 2012, I reported that Beef Products, Inc. had filed a lawsuit against ABC, the USDA, and various other entities for defamation. The claim is based on the hoopla and bad press that ABC started when it came out with stories “warning” people about the “pink slime” in meat products.
On March 27, Judge Gering from the Union County Circuit Court denied motions filed by ABC and other Defendants to throw out the case. Then, on April 23, ABC appealed Judge Gering’s decision to the South Dakota Supreme Court. They asked the Supreme Court to clarify or reverse portions of Judge’s Gering’s decision based on common law disparagement claims and South Dakota’s Agricultural Foods Products Disparagement Act (AFPDA). Just last week, the Supreme Court denied the appeals from ABC and the other Defendants. This will allow the suit to continue. (Source: Sioux City Journal)
If that sounds like a lot of legalese to you, let me clear it up: ABC tried to argue that there was no way BPI could win the case at trial and, therefore, the case should be dismissed. The judge disagreed and now the case will move forward.
Now, procedural, these types of motions are fairly common. The unique part is that it went to the South Dakota Supreme Court. Thankfully, however, BPI will be able to continue with the lawsuit through the next step, which is discovery (so named because the parties now have various tools to “discover” the facts of the case).
Again, I have no idea if BPI has a valid claim under South Dakota law, but I’m glad that this lawsuit is being allowed to continue. Hopefully, it will make news corporations and anchors (Diane Sawyer “broke” the non-story here) think twice before they go on the air spewing garbage about food products without first getting all the facts (or, heck, even some of the facts). Countless people were scared from eating meat, BPI took a huge hit, and BPI employees were laid off as a result. That’s reckless and some accountability would be a good thing.
For more information on the lean finely textured beef, the actual name for the so-called “pink slime,” and, more importantly, an explanation of what it is, click here.