BPI Preliminary Hearing Gets Started in Union County

(ELK POINT, SD) BPI gets its first day in court against ABC News. Beef Products Incorporated sued ABC for defamation more than a year ago. The case bounced from state court, to federal court, and back again.

Tuesday afternoon, lawyers for both sides made their first arguments in front of a judge. That hearing ended just before 5 PM.

The preliminary hearing started at 1 o'clock Tuesday. ABC told the court it wants the case dismissed. BPI wants the case to be heard by a jury because it says ABC hurt BPI's reputation and caused more than 700 people to lose their jobs. The tension could be felt throughout the courtroom as both sides presented their arguments but only the judge will decide what happens next.

The preliminary hearing consisted of 4 motions, the first was for dismissal of the entire case. Kevin Baine, the defense attorney for ABC says at no point in time did ABC say the product was unsafe but instead presented both sides which included statements from the USDA saying it was safe.

BPI responded claiming the term "pink slime" was used more than 130 times, and says while ABC may have stated the USDA's response, it also continued to make the USDA look like "unworthy source." BPI says that is just one of the reasons why this case should go to trial and let a jury decide the outcome.

There's another issue here involving who exactly is suing ABC. BPI included two related companies in the lawsuit, ABC wants those companies thrown out arguing they were not directly affected by ABC's reports.

In addition to that, separate from the ABC lawsuit, a former BPI employee and two former USDA microbiologists who talked to ABC are asking to have the lawsuits against them thrown out. One of those employees, Gerald Zirnstien was the first person to use the term Pink slime in an email to his colleges.

The arguments in court wrapped up around 5 PM. Siouxland news reporter Beairshelle Edme is will have audio from Tuesday's hearing and a full wrap up of everything that happened inside tonight at 9 and 10.