Disney's quarterly report gives a glimpse of BPI settlement

Disney paying at least $177 million to settle lawsuit

A quarterly earnings report filed by ABC's parent company, The Walt Disney Co., disclosed that the company is likely paying $177 million dollars "in connection with the settlement of litigation".

To our knowledge, the BPI case is the only one settled by Disney in the last quarter.

Disney, which owns ABC News, did not specifically link the $177 million payment to the settlement it reached with BPI in June.

The filing identified the charge as a cost “incurred in connection with the settlement of litigation,” minus the portion of the settlement covered by insurance.

In a statement emailed to Siouxland News from Dan Webb of Winston & Strawn , who headed up the litigation for BPI in the case against ABC:

"As Disney disclosed, $177 Million is not the total settlement amount. Based on Disney's disclosure, it appears that Disney is funding $177 million of the settlement and its insurers are paying the rest."

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"Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I have several things to tell you," Judge Cheryle Gering said. "The case has settled."

And just like that, after years of preparation, renovating the basement of a small town courthouse, and with nearly two billion dollars on the line, the case between Beef Products Incorporated and ABC News has come to a close.

"This case is completely over and will be dismissed," Judge Gering said.

This comes just a day after the judge delayed testimony, after a "major legal issue" arose between ABC and BPI that couldn't get resolved on Day 16.

But inside the courtroom, aside from some confused looks on spectator's faces, joy came from the side of BPI, who had a much larger presence in the courtroom than in recent days.

Following the announcement, BPI lead counsel Dan Webb says this is a positive outcome for the Dakota Dunes based company.

"It's been a long road for BPI," Webb said, "but was a road that was necessary to have this litigation, to have this trial in order to rectify the harm that was caused by what we believed to be baseless and biased reporting that occurred in 2012."

Jim Avila, who reported on BPI's Lean Finely Textured Beef Product in 2012 and attended every day of the trial, spoke very briefly after the hearing, saying he stands by the reporting on LFTB.

"We're not retracting anything," said Avila, "we're not apologizing for anything. I want people to understand that it was a business decision, and I do support my company's decision."

In a written statement, a spokesperson for ABC said, "ABC has reached an amicable resolution of its dispute with the makers of "Lean Finely Textured Beef." Throughout this case, we have maintained that our reports accurately presented the facts and views of knowledgeable people about this product. Although we have concluded that continued litigation of this case is not in the Company's interests, we remain committed to the vigorous pursuit of truth and the consumer's right to know about the products they purchase."

"We believe we have totally vindicated our product," Webb said, "it's beef, it's nutritious, it's safe and it should be a component in ground beef."

Neither party said they will be releasing the amount of money agreed upon in the settlement any time soon.

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