The 'Pink Slime' Debacle Cost Disney and ABC at Least $177 Million

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The Walt Disney Company's quarterly financial filing with the Securities and Executive Commission (SEC) shows a charge of $177 million "net of committed insurance recoveries", incurred in connection with a litigation settlement. It is at least $177 million.

There's a dollar figure we can now attach to the BPI-ABC News settlement.

Beef Products said a report in 2012 by Jim Avila, an ABC News correspondent, misled consumers about the safety of the product, which is officially known as "lean finely textured beef".

Lean, finely textured beef can be added to ground beef to reduce the overall fat content.

The settlement of $177 million is only 3.2 percent of the value the lawsuit could have netted under South Dakota's Agricultural Food Products Disparagement Act that triples the value to $5.7 billion.

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Disney's (dis) decision to settle the lawsuit, first reported by the Hollywood Reporter, came as a surprise, and occurred in the midst of a weeks-long trial in South Dakota.

The June 28 agreement ended a jury trial on day 17 in Union County, SD, Circuit Court. BPI attorney Erik Connolly said that the reports amounted to "fake news".

"We are extraordinarily pleased to have reached a settlement of our lawsuit against ABC and Jim Avila", according to BPI.

ABC called the settlement "amicable resolution". Throughout this case, we have maintained that our reports accurately presented the facts and views of knowledgeable people about this product. It said Gerald Zirnstein, a former United States Department of Agriculture scientist, coined the term "pink slime" in a memo and told ABC News that he would not buy the product.

The series of ABC News reports citing "pink slime" fueled a national outcry over the beef product, which in turn led the industry to stop using it, and to a series of plant closures and layoffs at Beef Products Inc. BPI alleged the network was intending to do harm when it referred to the product as "pink slime". Following the broadcasts, demand for LFTB dropped and the company was forced to downsize dramatically.

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