Judge: Scholz's libel lawsuit vs. Herald goes forward
Friday, September 10, 2010

By Mark Shanahan
Boston Globe

Bad news for the Boston Herald. A judge today rejected the newspaper's motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by Boston rocker Tom Scholz.

Last March, three years after Boston singer Brad Delp committed suicide, Scholz sued the Herald for libel, claiming reporters Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa defamed him by writing that Delp's ex-wife, Micki, blamed Scholz for the singer's death.

"This court finds that Scholz's complaint and the inferences...support his claim that the defendants' alleged conduct is 'extreme and outrageous,'" wrote Judge John Cratsley in his decision.

Scholz, who is represented by attorney Howard Cooper, contends Fee and Raposa, authors of the tabloid's Inside Track column, attributed statements to Micki Delp that were "false and fabricated."

Reached yesterday, Cooper said he is gratified by the judge's decision. "It's a very thoughtful and well-reasoned decision, and it makes clear that Tom Scholz's case is well-grounded in fact and in law and will proceed." (Five years ago, Cooper won a $2 million judgment against the Herald after a jury determined the paper libeled Superior Court Judge Ernest Murphy.)

Jeff Robbins, one of several attorneys working on the case for the Herald, did not return a call yesterday.

At issue are stories that appeared in the Herald after Delp's body was discovered in the bathroom of his home in Atkinson, N.H. On March 16, 2007, under the headline "Pal's snub made Delp do it: Boston rocker's ex-wife speaks," the Herald reported that Delp was "driven to despair" by Scholz and the band's "ugly breakup," and attributed the comments to Micki Delp.

Gayle Fee took notes during her March 15, 2007 interview with Micki Delp, but Cratsley notes "she discarded her notes after Micki contacted her on March 16, 2007 regarding what Micki perceived as distortions/fabrications in that morning's Inside Track column."

Explaining his decision to allow the suit to go forward, Cratsley writes: "While the Inside Track articles do not explicitly state Delp committed suicide because of Scholz's behavior, I find they are reasonably susceptible of a defamatory connotation because the articles insinuate, if not suggest, that Delp's stressful career, caused in part or in whole by Scholz, played a role in Delp's suicide."

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