Tom Scholz loses $132,000 in court
Boston founder Tom Scholz has been ordered to pay a newspaper $132,000 in court costs after he sued for defamation and lost.
He launched legal action against the Boston Herald, accusing the paper and two of its journalists of suggested he was responsible for the suicide of singer Brad Delp in 2007.
Delp took his own life by lighting two charcoal grills in his sealed bathroom, leading to death by carbon monoxide poisoning. In one of four notes he wrote: “I have had bouts of depression and thoughts of suicide since I was a teenager.”
The Herald later reported he’d been “beaten down by the years of dealing with Tom Scholz,” which the bandleader said amounted to blaming him for the singer’s death. The paper successfully defended itself in the case, with a court ruling their story did not amount to defamation since it was not possible to know why Delp had taken his own life.
Sholz’s representatives argued that he should not have to pay costs. But a judge has now decided that it’s a matter of freedom of speech.
Superior Court Judge Frances McIntyre believes that if newspapers are left to cover their own fees in a successful defence, it could lead to a situation where they don’t run important stories for fear of the expense. She said in her ruling: “This court favours allowing costs in order that the expenses of litigation do not induce an unnecessary and undesirable self-censorship.”
Herald publisher Patrick Purcell says: “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.”
Scholz has been working on a new Boston album for several years. Vocalist Tommy DeCarlo last year hinted the follow-up to 2002′s Corporate America could appear in 2013 – but added that, no matter how long it took, it would be worth the wait.