By: Herald Staff
A Massachusetts Superior Court judge has ordered Tom Scholz, founder of the band Boston, to pay the Herald more than $132,000 in court costs incurred by the newspaper in successfully defending itself against a defamation lawsuit filed by the rocker against the Herald and two of its reporters.
Judge Frances McIntyre ruled that the costs were reasonably incurred by the Herald's lawyers in taking depositions of witnesses necessary for the Herald's defense, and that under court rules, where the Herald had succeeded in winning dismissal of Scholz's lawsuit, Scholz was required to reimburse it for those costs.
In addition, McIntyre found that Scholz's lawsuit "raises the concern that the costs associated with extended defamation litigation may impact First Amendment rights by chilling the free expression of ideas and opinions by media defendants." She added: "The threat of expensive litigation could put litigious persons of public interest beyond media commentators because of the feared expense."
The court concluded "This court favors allowing costs in the instant case in order that the expenses of litigation that occurred here not induce an unnecessary and undesirable self-censorship."
In late March, Judge McIntyre granted summary judgment to the Herald and its reporters in the defamation lawsuit, brought against them by Scholz in the aftermath of the suicide of Boston's lead singer, Brad Delp. According to public records, including materials filed in the case, Scholz has filed numerous lawsuits, including lawsuits against his former managers, Boston's accountant and various musicians associated with the band.
The Herald's lawyers had submitted evidence that the Herald had incurred $132,163.89 in out-of- pocket costs associated with taking and defending depositions and other aspects of the Herald's defense, and had asked that the entire amount be repaid by Scholz. Scholz's lawyers, from the firm of Todd and Weld, had argued that their client should not be required to pay any of these costs. Judge McIntyre ruled that Scholz was liable for the entire amount.
"Judge McIntyre's decision is a reminder of the chilling effect that meritless defamation lawsuits can have on journalists, and of the harmful impact such suits can have on the public at large," said Herald publisher Patrick Purcell. "We believe that this ruling is a very important one."
By: Herald Staff