Boston’s Tom Scholz Loses Lawsuits Against Brad Delp’s Widow and Newspaper
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled against Boston's Tom Scholz in defamation lawsuits against both the Boston Herald and Micki Delp, the widow of singer Brad Delp, who killed himself in 2007. This ends a five-year legal battle for Scholz.
The suits stemmed from article published in the Herald shortly after Delp's death in which Micki Delp said that problems with Scholz triggered the depression in his final days and caused him to take his own life. Lower courts had dismissed both suits in the past, most recently in 2013, stating that Micki was stating her opinions, and were therefore considered protected speech under the First Amendment.
The state's highest court agreed. "We conclude that the newspaper articles and statements contained therein constitute nonactionable opinions based on disclosed nondefamatory facts that do not imply undisclosed defamatory facts," the judges ruled in a unanimous decision. "The statements at issue could not have been understood by a reasonable reader to have been anything but opinions regarding the reason Brad committed suicide."
Scholz was also ordered to pay more than $132,000 in court costs to the newspaper.
"We are thrilled at the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upholding the lower court’s ruling in favor of the Herald and its two journalists,” said the Herald's publisher, Patrick J. Purcell. “I am constantly made proud of the great work done at the Herald by everyone in our newsroom, and the fine reporting done on these articles is a good example. I am extremely pleased at the outcome.”
Scholz's publicist issued a statement that read, "Mr. Scholz believes this decision will have adverse consequences well beyond his case against the Herald because it regrettably means that people are largely free to accuse another of causing someone's suicide, even when, as here, the accusation is false. In the end, Mr. Scholz remains saddened by the loss of his friend and bandmate, Brad Delp."
The statement notes that Delp's last e-mails and suicide note prove that his condition was "entirely unrelated to his working relationship with Mr. Scholz."
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