Actress Nicollette Sheridan at the premiere of the movie Beowulf on November 6, 2007. Photo by current events (Flickr: [1]) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Actress Nicollette Sheridan at the premiere of the movie Beowulf on November 6, 2007. Photo by current events (Flickr: [1]) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
A judge said Monday she wants more complete time estimates for the testimony of witnesses in the retrial of actress Nicollette Sheridan‘s lawsuit alleging she was assaulted by “Desperate Housewives” creator Marc Cherry, then written out of the show when she complained.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Holly Kendig also scheduled the retrial of Sheridan’s lawsuit against Touchstone Television for June 5, 2017. The first trial ended with a hung jury in 2012.

Attorneys told the judge they expect the retrial to last 15 to 16 court days, with Sheridan once again among the key witnesses.

As they did in the previous trial, defense attorneys have included Sheridan’s former “Desperate Housewives” castmates Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Teri Hatcher on their witness list.

Attorney Adam Levin, on behalf of Touchstone Television, declined to say whether any of those actresses will testify. Sheridan’s lawyer, Mark Baute, said he doubted the actresses will take the stand.

Touchstone attorneys also have motions scheduled in November and February seeking dismissal of Sheridan’s case.

Sheridan filed her lawsuit in April 2010. The latest turn in the case came last October, when Justice Thomas Willhite, writing for a three-justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal, concluded that Judge Michael Stern erred when he granted a defense motion to dismiss the case. Stern received the case after defense attorneys removed Judge Elizabeth Allen White after the first trial.

Stern had 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. The state appeals court justices concluded Stern’s decision was incorrect.

“The sole issue on appeal is whether Sheridan was required to exhaust her administrative remedies …, Willhite wrote. “We conclude that she was not required to do so and therefore reverse.”

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, the 2nd District Court of Appeal found that Judge White should have granted Touchstone’s motion for a directed verdict and dismissed the wrongful termination action.

The justices said that although the actress could not have a retrial of her wrongful  termination claim, she could 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 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. Sheridan was told of the plans to eliminate her character in meeting with Cherry and the producers in February 2009, according to Cherry.

The show’s run ended in May 2012.

—City News Service

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