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Defense rests in Oprah case

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey outside the courthouse Tuesday  
February 24, 1998
Web posted at: 3:21 p.m. EST (2021 GMT)

AMARILLO, Texas (CNN) -- The defense on Tuesday rested its case in the defamation lawsuit brought against television celebrity Oprah Winfrey by a group of Texas cattlemen. Closing arguments in the case were set to begin Wednesday.

Attorneys for Winfrey filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss the lawsuit, which is based on accusations that her 1996 show on mad cow disease caused livestock prices to plummet.

U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson did not immediately rule on the motion. The trial is coming to a close after almost six weeks of testimony.

In its motion, the defense charged that the plaintiffs had not proved their case, in which they charged that Winfrey's show misled viewers into thinking that U.S. beef could be infected with mad cow disease.

A day after the show aired, prices fell 10 percent. But Winfrey's attorneys blamed the drop on other factors.

Talk show scene
"It has just stopped me from eating another burger!" Oprah says in this episode of her talk show  

They said the comments on the show were "substantially true" and there was "no clear and convincing evidence of actual malice" toward the beef industry.

Robinson already tossed out key parts of the lawsuit and said it could not be tried under the so-called "veggie libel" laws that forbid the false disparagement of agricultural products.

Her ruling meant that, in order to win, the plaintiffs would have to prove malice on the part of Winfrey and guest and fellow defendant Howard Lyman, a vegetarian activist.

The cattlemen said the show cost them $10 million.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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