Thursday, September 15, 2011

UPDATE: Scholz Setback in Libel Suit Against Boston Herald

Tom ScholzCover of Tom ScholzCiting the long-recognized fair reporting privilege, Massachusetts Superior Court Judge John C. Cratsley has dismissed some of the defamation claims against The Boston Herald brought by Boston band co-founder Tom Scholz, the Herald reported today.

Scholz, the band's composer and keyboardist/guitarist, sued the daily last year in Donald Thomas Scholz v. Boston Herald, Inc., Gayle Fee & Laura Raposa (Case No. 10-1010), alleging emotional distress and defamation based on articles published in the tabloid in 2007 on March 15 & 16 and July 2 (see "TUOL" post 3/18/10), and later, in May 2010, when the Herald reported on the lawsuit itself and the parties' positions. Scholz alleges the defendants blamed him for the suicide of Boston vocalist and co-founder Brad Delp.

Judge Cratsley tossed the defamation claims arising from the May 2010, Herald articles, ruling the accounts had accurately reported about the lawsuit and were not unfair or published for any purpose other than to inform readers. The so-called fair reporting privilege is a well-established qualified defense to libel suits in which accurate, fair reporting of judicial proceedings (which are absolutely privileged) is not actionable. It's a qualified defense in that a biased, inaccurate and unfair account of a privileged court hearing would not afford the offending journalist protection.

The plaintiff's suit is still active regarding the allegedly defamatory 2007 items that appeared in the Herald's Inside Track column.  Scholz recently came up empty in a separate 2008 defamation suit against Delp's widow, Micki Delp, and her sister, Connie Goudreau. 

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