For the second time in less than a year, a judge dismissed actress Nicollette Sheridan’s lawsuit alleging she was assaulted by “Desperate Housewives” creator Marc Cherry and eliminated from the series when she complained.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Stern’s ruling came less than two months after a three-justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal found that the he erred when he issued a ruling in favor of the 50-year-old actress on Jan. 29 by giving the green light for a retrial.
Last Nov. 5, Stern found that Sheridan failed to present her grievances to the state Labor Commission within six months of the alleged September 2008 on-set incident and he tossed the actress’ case. He changed his mind two months later and said the retrial could go forward.
Touchstone lawyers maintained the November dismissal order represented a final determination of Sheridan’s one remaining claim and that Stern lacked jurisdiction to hear the motion for reconsideration. The state appeals court justices agreed and on Aug. 1 ordered Stern to vacate his January ruling and disallow the retrial, or show why it should be allowed to go forward.
Sheridan’s lawyers have also filed an appeal, but it involves the Nov. 5 dismissal order. They stated in their court papers that they did so as a precaution to preserve the actress’ rights in case the appeals court finds that Stern was wrong to assert he had jurisdiction to hear the January motion for reconsideration.
In their court papers, Sheridan’s lawyers argued that Stern still retained jurisdiction “because both parties and the trial court conceded that the trial court’s rulings on Touchstone’s renewed (dismissal motion) and the new trial motion were not final judgments.”
In the first trial, a jury in March 2012 deadlocked 8-4 in favor of Sheridan on her wrongful termination claim. But six months later, a three- justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal found that Judge Elizabeth Allen White should have granted Touchstone’s motion for a directed verdict and dismissed the wrongful termination action.
The justices said the actress could not have a retrial of her wrongful termination claim, which was part of her original lawsuit filed in April 2010. Sheridan was allowed, however, to revise her complaint and make a claim under a section of the state Labor Code protecting employees from being fired or threatened with firing if they complain about workplace safety.
Cherry maintained in a sworn declaration that he met with other show writers in May 2008 to ponder upcoming story lines and they discussed whether to eliminate the Edie Britt role, played by Sheridan.
Cherry said he needed and eventually obtained the permission of Touchstone’s then-President Mark Pedowitz as well as that of ABC programming chief Steven McPherson, to write the Britt character out of the series. The meetings with Pedowitz, McPherson and the show’s producers were held in confidential settings, he says.
After exploring various ways to have Britt “killed,” Cherry and the producers ultimately decided she would lose her life in a car accident, he said.
Sheridan was told of the plans to eliminate her character in meeting with Cherry and the producers in February 2009, he said.
The show’s run ended in May 2012.
— City News Service