9:58am PT by Alex Ben Block
'Desperate Housewives' Retrial Set for September
The judge overseeing Nicollette Sheridan's wrongful termination lawsuit against ABC over her firing from Desperate Housewives has set a September 10 date for a re-trial of the case.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury failed to reach a verdict in March in the first trial between Sheridan and ABC over whether she was terminated by the Housewives studio as retaliation for complaining about an altercation with series creator Marc Cherry.
Sheridan's attorneys had asked Judge Elizabeth Allen White to impose sanctions on ABC attorneys for their conduct during the first trial, but that request was denied Wednesday during a hearing in the downtown courthouse.
The judge had initially offered to hold the retrial of the case on June 4. However Adam Levin, lead attorney for ABC/Disney, said in court that they would not be able to get the witnesses they needed on that date because of the cycle of the entertainment industry. That was a reference to most shows being on hiatus in May and June.
So Sheridan attorneys Mark Baute and Patrick Maloney begrudgingly agreed to the Sept. 10 date. They also said they want to depose more witnesses before then. Levin said the defense had a number of additional witnesses it wishes to bring to the stand, and that the short duration of the trial did not allow that.
Levin had asked the judge to issue a directed verdict because he claimed Sheridan never proved in the trial that there were unsafe working conditions on Housewives, which is required to prove her case.
During the hearing, both sides returned to the arguments they made during the trial, which ended in a hung jury. Levin argued that ABC had clearly shown there were discussions about killing off Sheridan's character before the incident with Cherry. Baute called that a “bogus defense concocted out of thin air.”
The judge said a discussion of killing off a character is not the same as a decision, so that was not relevant.
The judge strongly suggested both sides meet and try to reach a settlement before the re-trial. However, after the court hearing Baute told reporters that ABC/Disney has said the company will never settle, and he does not see that changing.