'Pink slime' lawsuit heads back to state court

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 12, 2013 at 8:06 pm •  Published: June 12, 2013

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday moved a South Dakota beef processing company's defamation lawsuit against ABC News back to state court.

Beef Products Inc. sued American Broadcasting Companies Inc. and ABC News Inc. for defamation in September over its coverage of a meat product the company calls lean, finely textured beef but that critics dubbed "pink slime." The meat processor claims the network damaged the company by misleading consumers into believing the product is unhealthy and unsafe. BPI is seeking $1.2 billion in damages.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier ordered the case back to the circuit court in Union County.

Erik Connolly, a lawyer for BPI, said the company is looking forward to presenting its case.

"We originally filed the case in state court because that was the proper jurisdiction," Connolly said in an email. "The Court's decision confirms we were correct."

Lawyers for ABC wanted the suit moved to federal district court in South Dakota because it said the parties involved are all from different states. A lawyer for the broadcasting company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In order for the federal court to take a case under the concept of diversity jurisdiction, none of the defendants must hold citizenship in the same state where any plaintiff holds citizenship.

Dakota Dunes, S.D.-based BPI is incorporated in Nebraska, but the other two plaintiffs, BPI Technology Inc. and Freezing Machines Inc., are incorporated in Delaware. ABC is also incorporated in Delaware.

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