12:45am PT by Matthew Belloni
Judge OKs Nicollette Sheridan Trial Over 'Desperate Housewives' Firing
Actress Nicollette Sheridan showed up in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday to witness a key hearing in the high-profile lawsuit over her firing from ABC's Desperate Housewives.
Sheridan got a mixed bag of news, as the judge tossed her sexual harassment and assault claims over an alleged altercation with Housewives creator Marc Cherry but ruled that several other claims--including wrongful termination, battery and unlawful termination--can go to trial next month before a jury.
As you'll recall, Sheridan sued ABC and Cherry last April claiming he slapped her in the face in 2008 on the set of Housewives, then arranged for her character to be written out of the show when she complained about the assault and other harassment.
We reported last week that ABC had filed a motion for summary judgment trying to shoot down key claims by contending that the decision to fire Sheridan was made months before her alleged altercation with Cherry. Team Sheridan then produced testimony from a Housewives writer-producer who says she knew nothing about the plan to boot Sheridan until around the time of the alleged incident.
After hearing arguments from both sides on Tuesday, judge Elizabeth Allen White said "It's clear to the court that this is something that needs to go to a jury," reports the AP, which has quotes from ABC lawyer Adam Levin and Sheridan lead attorney Mark Baute.
So now the case goes to trial, currently set for June 8. Importantly, Sheridan can still go after ABC for punitive damages, giving her a bit of leverage in the likely settlement discussions over the next few weeks. But with many of Sheridan's initial claims having been either dropped or knocked out by ABC's lawyers, she will likely ask the jury for substantially less than the $20 million she initially demanded.