ABC News, and anchor Diane Sawyer, have been named in a defamation lawsuit filed by Beef Products Inc. (BPI).

The Dakota Dunes, S.D.-based meat processor is seeking $1.2 billion in damages for roughly 200 “false and misleading and defamatory” statements about the product officially known as lean, finely textured beef, but has been refered to as “pink slime.”

ABC’s reporting “caused consumers to believe that our lean beef is not beef at all — that it’s an unhealthy pink slime, unsafe for public consumption, and that somehow it got hidden in the meat,” said Dan Webb, an attorney for BPI.

The 257-page lawsuit cites 11 TV reports and 14 online reports between March 7 and April 3, 2012. In addition to Sawyer, ABC correspondents Jim Avila and David Kerley are also named as defendants, as is a former Dept. of Agriculture microbiologist who coined the term “pink slime” in 2002. He was the “whistleblower” featured in ABC’s reports.

“The lawsuit is without merit,” says ABC News SVP Jeffrey Schneider, adding, “We will contest it vigorously.”

Watch Avila’s report from March 7, after the jump…

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