December 20, 2014

New lawsuit in “pink slime” case is filed in Nebraska by ex-BPI worker

The former environmental health and safety director of Beef Products Incorporated has filed a lawsuit against media members who referred to the company’s “finely textured beef product” as “pink slime.”

Bruce Smith says the suit was filed in Dakota County, Nebraska, and names several individuals and companies.

“Against ABC News, ABC correspondents Diane Sawyer and Jim Avilo. Against United Kingdom celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and against social media food critic and food advocate, Bettina Siegel of The Lunch Tray,” Smith says.

Smith, who is an attorney, lists up to 10 other unknown defendants who may be later determined through the lawsuit. The lawsuit says the defendents spread untruths and lies about the product and he is seeking $70,000 in damages plus court costs.

“I filed it in Dakota County State District Court in Nebraska. If you sue nonresidents, they can remove cases to federal court is the case in controversy exceeds $75,000,” Smith explains. “I want my trial in Dakota County Nebraska, I don’t want it in Omaha, Nebraska. I want it where the damage was done, where one of our plants are, and where people live.”

Smith is one of around 800 former BPI employees who lost their jobs because of plant closings related to the finely textured beef controversy.

Smith has also written a book called “Pink Slime Ate My Job,” and says if he sells 100,000 copies, he will donate one dollar for each book sold to other former BPI employees.

“Maybe some would like to file lawsuits and this could serve as some means to retain attorneys to do so. I would like nothing more than to have 800 individual lawsuits in Texas, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota by every individual who was a victim of this particular pink slim scam,” Smith says.

Smith says he fully supports the lawsuit filed earlier this year by BPI founders Eldon and Regina Roth against ABC and other defendants.

BPI closed three factories that made the product, in Kansas, Texas and Waterloo, Iowa, eliminating some 700 jobs. Only one plant remains open in South Sioux City, Nebraska.

By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City