Here's How Much the ‘Pink Slime' Case Cost Disney
The figure was released this week as part of the company's latest earnings report.
In June, the Walt Disney Company settled a lawsuit over ABC News’ coverage of South Dakota-based meat processor Beef Products Inc. and their infamous “lean finely textured beef,” aka “pink slime.” Since the case was settled out of court, exact figures of the settlement were never publically released. That is, until Disney’s most recent quarterly earnings report was published today.
Within the report, Disney included a footnote for “at least” $177 million that was “incurred in connection with the settlement of litigation.” According to reports from CNN, the settlement was worth even more than the publically disclosed $177 million, however, neither ABC News or Disney have commented on that assertion. Even if the total was more than $177 million, that figure pales in comparison to Beef Products, Inc.’s original claim that ABC News’ “false and disparaging” statements about “pink slime” during a 2012 report caused the company $1.9 billion in damages.
ABC News original report presented the "pink slime" product, known in the industry as “lean finely textured beef,” or LFTB, as a common filler in ground beef and launched a media outcry that had a major impact on Beef Products, Inc.'s business. According to NPR, fast food companies almost immediately stopped working with Beef Products, Inc. and petitions were launched to cut “pink slime” from school lunches. As a result, the company had to close three plants and lay off 700 workers. The company then filed their defamation suit against ABC News, claiming that the report destroyed its business due to “blatantly false and disparaging statements."
While Disney is a multi-billion dollar conglomerate and one of the most valued companies on the planet, $177 million is still historically significant as it’s one of the largest amounts ever paid in a media defamation lawsuit and roughly equals a year's worth of ad revenue for ABC News. However, five years later, ABC News continues to stand by the original report, as can be seen in their public statement made at the conclusion of the trial. “Throughout this case, we have maintained that our reports accurately presented the facts and views of knowledgeable people about this product."