Nicollette Sheridan Denied New 'Desperate Housewives' Trial
The actress unsuccessfully argued that new laws in California were enacted to her advantage. Unfortunately for her, they didn't come soon enough.
At a hearing on Thursday, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge rejected former Desperate Housewives castmember Nicollette Sheridan's bid for a new trial.
Sheridan sued ABC, Touchstone and Housewives creator Marc Cherry for $20 million in April 2010, claiming she was let go from the series in retaliation for complaining about being hit in the head by Cherry during a September 2008 argument on the set.
In 2012, a trial was held, but a deadlocked jury couldn't come to a verdict. Afterward, a California appellate court said that the trial judge should have issued a directed verdict in favor of the defendants on the basis that it wasn't a strict termination, but rather that Sheridan's contract was not renewed after the fifth season.
However, the door was left slightly ajar by the appellate court's suggestion that she should have filed her case under California's Labor Code.
Sheridan then pursued a claim that Touchstone retaliated against her for complaining about unsafe working conditions, but Judge Michael Stern determined she should have filed an administrative complaint to the California Labor Commissioner within six months of the on-set incident before filing a labor lawsuit. She had not filed soon enough.
On Thursday, her losing streak continued.
In a motion for a new trial, Sheridan's lawyers unsuccessfully argued that she was not required to exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit. They also pointed to changes made by California's legislature as the parties were briefing the case. According to Sheridan's motion, the legislature wasn't changing the law but clarifying that in cases like this, there was no administrative exhaustion requirement on the part of the plaintiffs.
Touchstone's attorneys responded by saying that the changes to the labor code didn't go into effect until January 1 of this year, that Sheridan's motion last month wasn't founded on existing law and that California's legislature did not make the statutes retroactive.
Judge Stern agrees, leaving Sheridan out of luck.
The case isn't completely over, as there's another hearing at the end of the month on Sheridan's motion for reconsideration, but after several trial judge and appellate rulings, the odds are looking longer and longer for the actress. She can take heart that she once convinced 8 of 12 jurors in her original trial. But that moment of being two-thirds of the way there now appears better read as being one-third of the way short.