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Disney pays a boatload of money to settle 'pink slime' lawsuit

The South Dakota-based meat processor Beef Products Inc. won a historically large settlement in a years-old defamation lawsuit against Disney-owned ABC News. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Disney paid out a lot of money recently in connection to a 2012 defamation suit brought by the South Dakota meat processor Beef Products, Inc., Business Insider reported Wednesday.

ABC News, which Disney owns, ran a series of reports in 2012 which characterized Beef Products' ground beef offerings as "pink slime."

Though the reports noted that the meat was not unsafe to eat, ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer, in one report, asked whether ground beef that so many people eat is "what we think it is or is it padded with a filler the whistleblower calls 'pink slime.'"

The report then quoted former USDA scientist Gerald Zernstein as saying the practice of selling the meat is "economic fraud."

"It's not fresh ground beef. It's a substitute. It's a cheap substitute being added in," Zernstein said.

Later in the report, ABC News labeled Beef Products Inc. as the "makers of 'pink slime.'"

BPI sued ABC News for a whopping $1.2 billion in a defamation suit.

“For more than 30 years, our family has built and operated companies that are committed to providing consumers with wholesome, safe and nutritious lean beef. We’ve created thousands of good jobs for Americans and our lean finely textured beef has made the leaner ground beef that consumers desire more affordable,” Eldon Roth, BPI founder and CEO, said at the time.

As result of the impact to its bottom line, which the company attributed to the “false and misleading and defamatory” allegations, BPI suspended operations at three of its plants, one in Amarillo, Texas, another in Garden City, Kansas, and another in Waterloo, Iowa. The company laid off 700 workers following the "pink slime" report, according to BPI.

On Wednesday, five years after BPI filed the lawsuit, Business Insider reported that the meat processor won a historically large settlement.

According to Disney's third-quarter earnings report released on Tuesday, the company paid $177 million "in connection with the settlement of litigation." CNN reported. The earnings report did not specifically cite the "pink slime" story or, for that matter, Beef Products Inc. However, at least some of the money went to BPI, according to CNN.

CNN said it spoke with a lawyer for BPI, who said the actual amount Disney paid to BPI was in the hundreds of millions. Disney actually paid $177 million, but $177 million was not the total amount of the settlement. As CNN also reported, Disney's insurance covered the rest of the settlement, the amount of which is currently unknown.

Representatives for ABC News and Disney did not respond to a request for comment from CNN.

TheBlaze reached out to BPI before publishing this report but received no immediate response.

BPI attorney Dan Webb told CNN that the settlement is the largest media defamation suit ever in U.S. history. According to the cable news outlet, the $177 million figure is more than the revenue ABC's evening news program, "World News Tonight," generates in one year.

(H/T: Daily Caller)

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