The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

Oprah Settles, One Day After Jury Selection

Earlier this week, the paparazzi rolled in as Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys began jury selection in the Oprah defamation case. Only one day later, Oprah offered to settle the suit, before ever setting foot in a Pennsylvania courtroom. 

Despite the onslaught of reporters, fans and gawkers outside the Pennsylvania courthouse, Oprah was nowhere to be seen on Monday, when jury selection began. 

Famed talk-show host and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey was being sued by the former headmistress of her African girls' school. Lerato Nomvuyo Mzamane filed a defamation lawsuit in a Pennsylvania court, alleging that the talk-show queen defamed her; hurting her reputation and preventing her chances of gainful employment. 

The case related back to charges of abuse at the South African girls' school. Oprah dismissed Mzamane after the allegations of abuse surfaced. Although Mzamane may not have been personally involved with the abuse, Oprah publicly criticized Mzamane.

Jury selection began on Monday. Although Oprah was not expected to be at the jury selection, she was to be at the trial, which was set to begin next Monday.

Oprah settled yesterday, a few days before her trial was slated to begin. 

The jury is essential to a personal injury trial. The jury is essentially the decision maker in a civil suit and it would have been the jury who determined if enough evidence existed to find Oprah liable by a preponderance of evidence, for the defamation of Mzamane. Thus, the selection of the jury would have been critical to the case. 

At the jury selection stage, the jurors are questioned by attorneys from both sides. If Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys can show that a particular juror may be biased or may not be objective in the case, the Pennsylvania personal injury attorney can make a peremptory challenge and have the juror excused.   

Details have yet to emerge on the settlement, but the Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys for the parties say that the two women met on their own outside the presence of attorneys and came to a mutual agreement.   

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