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Defamation suit reinstated for founder of Boston

Denise Lavoie, AP Legal Affairs Writer

BOSTON (AP) -- A defamation lawsuit filed by the founder of the rock group Boston against the ex-wife of the band's late lead singer was reinstated Tuesday by the Massachusetts Appeals Court.

The lawsuit was filed by Tom Scholz, who founded the band in the 1970s with lead singer Brad Delp.

Delp committed suicide in 2007, and Scholz claimed that remarks Delp's ex-wife Micki Delp made to the Boston Herald could be construed as blaming Scholz for his death.

A Superior Court judge found that the article was susceptible to a defamatory connotation, but he attributed that to the writers rather than Micki Delp's remarks. In its ruling, the Appeals Court disagreed, finding that Scholz has presented "sufficient evidence to demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact whether Micki is responsible for the defamatory connotation" of the article.

In March, a different judge threw out Scholz's separate defamation lawsuit against the Herald.

Boston was best known for its '70s hits "More Than a Feeling" and "Smokin."

The Herald article said Delp was driven to despair after a friend who was a longtime member of Boston was dropped from a summer tour. It also said Micki Delp recounted that Brad was upset over lingering bad feelings from the breakup of the band more than 20 years earlier. Brad Delp continued to work with Scholz and Boston, but also worked with former members of the band who had a bad falling out with Scholz in the early '80s.

Judge John Cratsley threw out Scholz's lawsuit against Micki Delp in August 2011.

He concluded that Scholz had not shown that Delp acted with malice in her comments to the Herald. The judge said it was "pure speculation" whether she spoke to the Herald in an intentional effort to blame Delp's suicide on Scholz.

Cratsley concluded that only one statement in the article could be reasonably construed to show that Micki spoke falsely or with reckless disregard for the truth and found that ill will between the parties was insufficient to show malice.

Judge Judd Carhart wrote for the Appeals Court wrote that a jury should determine whether a plaintiff has met the burden of demonstrating malice.

"From the record before us, we conclude that the judge's determination that Scholz could not prove the element of malice was error; in our view, such a determination should be left to the fact finder," Carhart wrote.

Lawyers for Scholz and Micki Delp did not immediately return messages seeking comment.