The trial in which brewing giant Anheuser-Busch stands accused by the owners of Maris Distributing Co. of defamation has begun in Florida.

Maris Distributing, which is owned and operated by the family of the legendary former baseball player Roger Maris, says Anheuser-Busch had a secret plan to spread lies about the company and destroy its reputation, intentionally defaming the business, while terminating their contract in 1997.

Anheuser-Busch has said that it simply said what it believed to be true, that the distributor was not meeting standards and was relabelling and repackaging outdated beer. The family is seeking between US$2.5bn and US$5bn in damages.