Lerato Nomvuyo Mzamane sued Winfrey, contending she defamed Mzamane when talking about an abuse scandal at the school she ran in 2007. The case was set for trial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, starting March 29.
“The two parties met woman to woman without their lawyers and are happy that they could resolve this dispute peacefully to their mutual satisfaction,” the attorneys said in a joint statement Tuesday.
Mzamane was immediately suspended and later fired after several students at Winfrey’s South African leadership academy complained about abuse. A dorm mother was later charged with abusing and assaulting students.
The lawsuit contended that Winfrey’s statements at a private meeting with parents, which later became public, and at a news conference defamed the headmistress by implying she knew of the abuse and covered it up. Mzamane said the abuse complaints were never brought to her and that Winfrey never let her explain.
“Ms Winfrey testified in her deposition that she did not intend the implications placed on her words by the plaintiff,” the joint statement said. “Ms Mzamane testified in her deposition that she has no evidence that Ms Winfrey knowingly made a false statement about her or entertained serious doubt about the truth of what she said.”
US District Judge Eduardo Robreno ruled a week ago that Winfrey’s comments could potentially be interpreted by a jury to be defamatory. The decision cleared the path for a trial.
The suit quoted Winfrey telling parents that “any person that has caused harm” to students would be let go. In the next sentence, Winfrey said she fired Mzamane because she had lost confidence in her ability to run the school. Winfrey also told the parents that when students brought their complaints to the headmistress, she “had not taken them seriously”, the suit said. — CNN.