By Laura Collins-Hughes
A courtroom feud between Tom Scholz, a founder of the band Boston, and Micki Delp, ex-wife of its late lead singer Brad Delp, may have come to an end with a judge's dismissal of Scholz's defamation claim against her. The Boston Herald, however, remains a target of Scholz's lawsuit.
A week after Brad Delp's March 2007 suicide, the Herald ran a story containing comments by Micki Delp, which, Scholz said, implicated him in the death. The story, by the Herald's Inside Track writers, was headlined, "Pal's snub made Delp do it: Boston rocker's ex-wife speaks.''
"According to Micki Delp," the story said, Brad Delp "was upset over the lingering bad feelings from the ugly breakup of the band Boston over 20 years ago'' and "was driven to despair after his longtime friend Fran Cosmo was dropped from a summer tour, the last straw in a dysfunctional professional life that ultimately led to the sensitive frontman's suicide, Delp's ex-wife said.''
Suffolk Superior Court Judge John C. Cratsley on Friday rejected the claim that Micki Delp had defamed Scholz.
"While the article as a whole could be read by some to contain a defamatory meaning ...," Cratsley wrote, "none of the statements attributed to Micki make that connection, either explicitly or implicitly."
Rather, the judge asserted, "it is the Boston Herald writers who create the connection to Scholz and the possible implication that Scholz was responsible for the ‘dysfunction' and thus, Brad's suicide."
Cratsley also said Scholz failed to prove that Micki Delp, the mother of Brad Delp's two children, acted with malice in her statements to the newspaper.
"Whether she spoke falsely to the Herald ... in an intentional effort to blame Delp's suicide on Scholz remains pure speculation," he wrote.
Before he took his own life, Brad Delp placed the blame for his death entirely on himself.
"I take complete and sole responsibility for my present situation," he wrote in one of several suicide notes. "I have lost my desire to live."
Micki Delp's attorney, Phil Tracy, called the suit against his client "one that should never have been brought."
"This has been very traumatic for all of the Delps," he added. "I hope Brad rests in peace at this point."
Nick Carter, an attorney for Scholz, declined in a brief telephone interview to comment on whether his client would appeal the dismissal, saying only that he "is considering his legal options." In a written statement, Scholz's legal team vowed that he "will continue his lawsuit against the Herald for its false and defamatory articles."
In a separate decision last week, the judge ruled that a sealed package of documents needed to be turned over to the defense, despite what he called a "misleading argument" by Scholz's lawyers.
The Herald, through attorney Jeffrey Robbins, pronounced itself "extremely pleased" by Cratsley's rulings.