No more than a feeling

Scholz v. Delp, Nos. SJC-11511, SJC-11621 (Mass. Nov. 25, 2015).

Donald Scholz is the guitarist and founder of the band Boston. He claims that articles in the Boston Herald libeled him by falsely insinuating that he was responsible for the 2007 suicide of Brad Delp, Boston’s lead singer. Scholz has sued the Herald, as well as Delp’s ex-wife, whom the articles quoted. 

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court holds that the statements in the articles were opinion, not fact—and hence can’t serve as a basis for libel. The statements were interpretations of Delp’s motives for suicide, couched in cautionary language. Scholz argues that the statements hinted at concrete—and thus actionable—facts that supported the Herald’s opinions, but the court disagrees. The articles disclosed the facts that supposedly bolstered the opinions, and Scholz doesn’t claim that the facts themselves are libelous.