Nicollette Sheridan Denied Effort to Revive 'Desperate Housewives' Trial

The judge sides with ABC as the three-year battle over the star's dismissal from the hit show is ended by a summary judgement in favor of the network.
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Nicollette Sheridan

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Friday accepted a summary judgment ending Nicollette Sheridan's long battle against ABC over the circumstances that led to her being dropped from the show Desperate Housewives. Sheridan had sought a new trial based solely on her claim that ABC retaliated against her for complaining about working conditions. The trial was to start Dec. 2.

Sheridan had initially filed a $20 million lawsuit in 2010 against ABC and Desperate Housewives creator and executive producer Marc Cherry. During the original trial, which began in February 2012, the actress claimed she was dropped after she told the network that Cherry had been abusive to her and other cast and crew and had struck her while they were on the set. ABC had claimed it was unaware of any abuses by Cherry. The abuse claim was removed in late 2010.

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Prior to the trial, the judge also ruled Sheridan at most could collect one year of her salary, and forbade her from claiming Cherry was rude to other castmembers.

During the trial Cherry admitted he had "tapped" to demonstrate a physical gag in the upcoming scene. He said he planned to kill off her character in advance of that incident. Cherry also said Sheridan had been unprofessional on the set.

Sheridan testified, as did the show's producers, some ABC executives and actor James Denton. On March 19, 2012, the jury returned and said it was unable to reach a verdict. A mistrial was declared and a retrial scheduled. However, before that could happen, an appeals court canceled the retrial, ruling that ABC's decision not to rehire the actress was legal because she had been an at-will employee, and they had the right not to re-sign her after her contract ended.

The court did rule Sheridan could file an amended lawsuit alleging that ABC retaliated against her for complaining about unsafe working conditions. Another appeal by Sheridan to the California Supreme Court was rejected on Nov. 16, 2012, at which time they said she could have another trial based solely on her claim that ABC retaliated against her for complaining about working conditions.