'Pink slime' lawsuit against ABC comes to St. Charles

A $1.2 billion defamation lawsuit filed by a South Dakota company against ABC News and Diane Sawyer over the phrase "pink slime" will involve a St. Charles man.

ABC lawyers have issued a subpoena for a deposition from Wafa Birbari.

"This witness has knowledge of relevant and important information concerning the facts and issues in the ... case and cannot be compelled to testify without the issuance of a subpoena," ABC's lawyers wrote in court documents filed in Kane County.

According to a LinkedIn profile, Birbari is division vice president at Aryzta, a supplier of frozen bakery goods.

The Dakota Dunes, South Dakota-based Beef Products, Inc., and BPI Technology and Freezing Machines, Inc. filed a defamation lawsuit against ABC, Sawyer and co-anchors Jim Avila and David Kerley in Union County, South Dakota, over March 2012 broadcasts in which one of BPI's products was called "pink slime."

The company claims it lost $400 million in sales, closed three of four plants and had to lay off 700 people. Under a South Dakota law, the $400 million in damages could be tripled if Beef Products wins the lawsuit.

Birbari has been summoned to testify July 15 at a St. Charles hotel.

BPI has hired Dan K. Webb of the Chicago law firm Winston & Strawn.

Webb's lengthy resume includes prosecuting retired Admiral John Poindexter in the Iran-Contra scandal and leading the "Operation Greylord" investigation into judicial corruption in Chicago.

Bar issues awards

The Kane County Bar Association recently named a new president and honored lawyers and community members.

Vincent C. Mancini, of Ekl Williams & Provenzale, earned the Community Service Award for broad-based community involvement. He was nominated and honored by Halle Cox, president of the Kane County Bar Foundation and Kane County Law librarian.

Mancini is the founder and coordinator of "KCBA Cares," officials said.

Michael W. Lenert, an attorney at Meyers & Flowers, won the Outstanding New Lawyer award, presented to an attorney in the first eight years of practice who has shown commitment to the bar association through involvement and other contributions.

Lenert has served as the KCBA social chair and New Lawyer's Committee co-chair, and is a mock trial coach for West Aurora High School.

Roger Fahnestock, chief information officer of the county's IT department, was honored by 16th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Judith Brawka with the Liberty Bell Award for this work in implementing the new case management system for Kane County.

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