Nicollette Sheridan Denied Retrial Again in 'Desperate Housewives' Case

Nicollette Sheridan People's Choice Awards - P 2012
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Nicollette Sheridan People's Choice Awards - P 2012

Nicollette Sheridan has again been denied a retrial of her allegations that she was fired from Desperate Housewives when she complained that creator Marc Cherry hit her in an argument on set.

The ruling follows the 2nd District Court of Appeal's order last month that Los Angeles Superior Court judge Michael Stern should vacate his decision in January to grant Sheridan a new trial. The judge had the option to defend that ruling at a hearing later in the year, but he decided to reverse course and deny the retrial, City News Service reported.

The case isn't over, though — Sheridan's attorneys Mark Baute and David Crochetiere are pursuing an appeal to Stern's Nov. 5 ruling to dismiss the case without leave to amend or be reconsidered. The appellate briefing should be done by the end of the year, with oral arguments next year, Baute tells THR. "The appeal is focused on a single legal issue, which is whether Ms. Sheridan was required to first exhaust an administrative remedy before filing her lawsuit," he says. 

The lawsuit has seen its share of setbacks since Sheridan filed in 2010 against Cherry, Housewives producer and affiliated Touchstone. In her $20 million complaint, the actress alleged that Cherry had struck her in the head during a September 2008 argument on set. When she went to the show's producers, she claimed, they retaliated by having her character killed off in a 2009 episode. Many of her claims, including emotional abuse and sexual harassment, were removed in pretrial phases, and Cherry was later dismissed from the case.

The trial ended with the jury deadlocked 8-4 in Sheridan's favor. Then Sheridan's efforts to revive the case began.

The actress appealed the case up to the California Supreme Court, which denied her request for a rehearing. Earlier, a California court of appeal had stepped in at ABC/Touchstone's request and ruled that the trial judge should have issued a directed verdict in the companies' favor because Sheridan had not actually been fired — her contract simply hadn't been renewed for the show's sixth season.

But the appellate court recommended Sheridan refile her complaint under the state's Labor Code, which she did, claiming that she was wrongfully terminated for complaining about unsafe working conditions. ABC and Touchstone argued that this complaint had been filed too late, and Stern agreed, accepting their summary judgment motion. It's this ruling that is presently under appeal.

After the ruling, Sheridan filed for reconsideration and a new trial. Stern shot down the motion for a new trial, but surprisingly, he granted the motion for reconsideration just weeks later. In the 2nd District Court of Appeal last month, ABC and Touchstone argued that Stern had had waived his jurisdiction over her new motions when he dismissed the case on Nov. 5 without leave to reconsider, and the appellate court agreed. Now Stern has fallen in line with the appellate court's order to vacate the ruling in favor of reconsideration.

Touchstone attorney Adam Levin declined comment.

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