Judge Orders New Trial For Nicollette Sheridan In ‘Desperate Housewives’ Case

By | Wednesday January 29, 2014 @ 10:15am PST

DesperateHousewives__120315233223__131018171710Nearly two years after her first Desperate Housewives trial ended with a deadlocked jury, Nicollette Sheridan is finally getting another legal life. LA Superior Court Judge Michael Stern has overturned his earlier ruling and granted the actress a new trial in her case against ABC/Touchstone TV for being suddenly let go from the now shuttered Housewives back in 2009. In October, Stern denied Sheridan’s request for a new trial, saying she failed to present her grievances to the state Labor Commission within six months of the alleged 2008 incident in which Sheridan claims show executive producer/creator Marc Cherry struck her on set. Stern said at the time that an appellate court ruling handed down in August clarified the law and made him rethink the issues and throw the case out. However, the law on which Touchstone lawyers largely relied was later decertified by the state Supreme Court. Earlier this month, Stern denied Sheridan’s separate for a new trial that was largely based on the same arguments. Read More »

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Nicollette Sheridan Loses Bid For Second ‘Desperate Housewives’ Trial

By | Friday October 18, 2013 @ 9:30am PDT

It’s finally over — at least for now. LA Superior Judge Michael Stern today sided with ABC/Touchstone TV and granted a summary judgement dismissing Nicollette Sheridan’s latest attempt to for a new trial over being … Read More »

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‘Scandal’s Scott Foley Sets Directorial Debut; Donald Faison & Nicollette Sheridan Star

By | Thursday June 13, 2013 @ 4:00pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: It’s a family affair. Scott Foley and brother-in-law Patrick Wilson are teaming up to produce Ward’s Wife starring former Scrubs star Donald Faison. The Scandal and The Goodwin Games actor’s feature directorial debut will also be produced by Mob Read More »

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Nicollette Sheridan Gets New ‘Desperate Housewives’ Trial

By | Monday April 22, 2013 @ 11:22am PDT

Over a year after Nicollette Sheridan saw her wrongful termination suit against Desperate Housewives ended in a mistrial, the actress today got a new trial date. Sheridan and defendants Touchstone Television will be back … Read More »

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Nicollette Sheridan’s ‘Housewives’ Appeal Denied By State Supreme Court

By | Saturday November 17, 2012 @ 12:51pm PST

The California Supreme Court turned down the appeal of former Desperate Housewives star Nicollette Sheridan on Friday. In a brief ruling by Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye the court “denied” Sheridan’s latest appeal in her legal battle against ABC … Read More »

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Nicollette Sheridan Denied Request For ‘Housewives’ Rehearing

By | Wednesday September 12, 2012 @ 3:21pm PDT

Doesn’t look like Nicollette Sheridan is going back to court to take on ABC again anytime soon. In a curt one-page ruling dated September 7, the California 2nd District Court of Appeal issued an order denying the former Desperate Housewives star’s petition for a rehearing of her wrongful termination suit against ABC and Touchstone Television. This comes almost a month after a three-judge appeals court panel rejected Sheridan’s claim of being wrongfully fired from the ABC show back in early 2009. That decision made last week’s order almost a given. However, all is likely not over for Sheridan and ABC. The judges in August said that the actress could continue with an amended claim that she was retaliated against after complaining that Housewives executive producer and creator Marc Cherry hit her in the head during a September 2008 argument on-set. In that case, Sheridan’s damages would be limited to loss of wages and benefits, a far cry from the $20 million suit she originally filed in April 2010. Read More »

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Court Denies Nicollette Sheridan Termination Claim, But She Can Pursue Claims Of Retaliation

By | Thursday August 16, 2012 @ 2:24pm PDT

A three-judge appeals court panel returned the ruling today, agreeing with attorneys for ABC and Touchstone Television that Nicollette Sheridan was not wrongfully fired. But the jurists said Sheridan should be allowed to pursue claims that she was retaliated against after complaining that Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry struck her in the head during an on-set argument. Sheridan’s initial case was declared a mistrial on March 19. Adam Levin, who represents ABC and Touchstone Television, praised the ruling. “The Court of Appeal correctly found that Ms. Sheridan was not terminated. Instead, her employment ended because Touchstone elected not to renew her contract after her character, Edie Britt, died on the show. Her last remaining claim for wrongful termination is gone, and while she may seek to add an OSHA claim, we believe we will prevail on that claim as well,” he said in a statement.

But Sheridan’s attorney Marc Baute is not giving up: “We will prosecute Touchstone to the fullest extent of the law under Labor Code Section 6310,” Baute said in a statement. Sheridan claimed in her initial lawsuit that her Housewives character Edie Britt was suddenly killed off in early 2009 and that she was fired from the show because of complaints the actress made over an alleged head-hitting incident on the series’ set with executive producer and series creator Marc Cherry on September 24, 2008.

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No Decision On Nicollette Sheridan’s Retrial Request After Hearing

By | Thursday August 9, 2012 @ 11:23am PDT

A retrial of Nicollette Sheridan’s wrongful termination suit against ABC Studios and ABC Entertainment  is not going to happen – yet.

At a hearing today, a three-judge Court of Appeal panel consisting of Norman Epstein, Thomas Willhite Jr and Nora Manella heard arguments from Sheridan’s and ABC’s lawyers. At the end of the arguments the judges said that they will take the matter of a retrial and the submitted briefs from the lawyers under consideration. A decision could take up to three months or more, rendering the previously set Sept. 10 start date for a retrial void.

Since the end of the original trial, ABC has argued for a dismissal of the case, insisting that Sheridan was not wrongfully terminated from Desperate Housewives. “All of the evidence shows that Ms. Sheridan was not terminated but her employment came to a natural end when her contract was not renewed,” defense lawyer Adam Levin of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, representing ABC Studios and ABC Entertainment, said today.

Sheridan was in court, accompanied by one of her lawyers, Mark Baute of Baute Crochetiere & Maloney. Judges Willhite and Manella repeatedly queried Baute about his client’s notion of termination. “Is it a termination when a contract is not renewed,” Manella asked. Baute responded by reiterating the alleged on-set head-hitting incident between Sheridan and Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry as the basis for what he called “Sheridan’s retaliatory firing for complaining about the incident.” Read More »

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No Retrial For Nicollette Sheridan ‘Desperate Housewives’ Case, Appeals Court Rules

The pending retrial of Nicollette Sheridan’s Desperate Housewives wrongful dismissal case has been put on ice by the California Court of Appeals. In a ruling issued Friday the court said, “it is further ordered that the retrial currently set for September … Read More »

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UPDATE: New ‘Desperate Housewives’ Trial Set For Sept. 10

By | Wednesday April 18, 2012 @ 9:51am PDT

Desperate Housewives TrialUPDATED, 9:55 AM: Disney/ABC just objected in court to the judge’s start date for the retrial, so the start has been shifted to September 10. The trial is scheduled to run through September 25, and … Read More »

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‘Desperate Housewives’ Case Update: Nicollette Sheridan Lawyers Fight For Retrial

By | Wednesday April 4, 2012 @ 3:02pm PDT

Lawyers seeking a retrial for Nicollette Sheridan in her Desperate Housewives wrongful termination suit this week fired back against ABC Entertainment and Touchstone Television for asking Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White to grant a verdict in ABC’s … Read More »

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UPDATE: No Verdict, No Settlement in “Desperate Housewives” Trial Today

By | Friday March 16, 2012 @ 4:20pm PDT

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

UPDATE 4:50 PM: “The judge asked us to come down and speak to the other side,” defense attorney Adam Levin said outside Judge Bendix’s courtroom, “and we did so and absolutely nothing … Read More »

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‘Desperate Housewives’ Jury Says It’s Having Trouble Reaching Verdict

By | Thursday March 15, 2012 @ 4:32pm PDT

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

The jury in former Desperate Housewives star Nicollette Sheridan’s wrongful termination suit announced to the court late Thursday afternoon that it is “having difficulty reaching a verdict.” After its first full day of deliberations, … Read More »

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UPDATE: ‘Desperate Housewives’ Trial Now In Jury’s Hands

By | Wednesday March 14, 2012 @ 3:00pm PDT

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

Desperate Housewives Trial

2ND UPDATE, 3 PM: Closing statements are over and the jury has left the court to begin deliberations. As a civil trial, the 12-person jury — 9 women and 3 men — does not have to be unanimous in its verdict, but at least nine must agree.

Wrapping closing statements earlier in the afternoon, Levin went for ABC’s bottom line in the wrongful termination trial: “The evidence does not show that Ms. Sheridan made a complaint about an unsafe work environment.” During his rebuttal, plaintiff’s attorney Mark Baute went after Marc Cherry, whom he called “vindictive”. He said Cherry “was out of control,” over objections from Levin, adding, “the company,” to protect Cherry and the success of the series, “orchestrated a story.” Sheridan “got retaliated against and clipped.”

UPDATE, 12:27 PM: Defense attorney Adam Levin said during his closing statement that “the decision to kill off Edie was made long before the Sept. 24, 2008 incident”. “Mr. Baute has told you a complicated story of conspiracy,” Levin said, referring to the closing argument by Nicollette Sheridan’s lawyer. “What is the truth is much more simple.”

Calling it “desperate” to allege that “10 good citizens of California” would concoct a fake story to get rid of Sheridan’s character after the actress complained about Marc Cherry allegedly hitting her in the head, Levin took a much more professorial tone that the passionate Baute earlier in the morning. Employing props like on-screen transcripts, a giant timeline board, Post-It notes and Housewives’ writers’ story index cards (like the unfortunately worded “Steve drinks OJ”), Levin attempted to show the jury how the decision was made to kill off Sheridan’s character and how then-ABC Studios president Mark Pedowitz and then-ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson approved the plan four months before the on-set head-hitting altercation. Read More »

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UPDATE: ABC Lawyer Rejects Claim That Network Tried To Delete ‘Desperate Housewives’ Emails

By | Tuesday March 13, 2012 @ 3:31pm PDT

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

Desperate Housewives Trial

UPDATE, 3:31 PM: ABC’s VP Litigation Jean Zoeller said on the stand today that she would “absolutely not” tell anyone to delete or erase any correspondence or documents related to Nicollette Sheridan being fired from Desperate Housewives. Zoeller’s testimony came in direct response to potential bombshell testimony earlier today by Michael Reinhart, the Housewives crew member who said he received an email telling him to “possibly” delete any correspondence and documents concerning Sheridan leaving the show. Reinhart said he deleted the email immediately and court officials are examining the hard drive. Read More »

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UPDATE: Mystery ‘Desperate Housewives’ Insider Identified; Defense Attorney Calls Revelation “Last-Ditch Effort”

By | Monday March 12, 2012 @ 4:30pm PDT

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

Desperate Housewives Trial3RD UPDATE, 4:30 PM: Michael Reinhart, credited as a construction coordinator on Desperate Housewives, has been identified as the caller who told Nicollette Sheridan’s lawyer that ABC planned to delete all emails related to Sheridan’s departure after she had filed her original lawsuit. Although IMDb lists him working on Housewives only in 2011, a source with knowledge of Reinhart’s employment history says, “The guy has been on the show since the pilot.” Attempts to contact Reinhart were unsuccessful, so Judge Elizabeth Allen White instructed her clerk to try to reach him directly at the end of the day today in hopes of having him appear in court tomorrow. They want him for what is known as a 402 hearing — it does not require a seated jury to be present — to determine whether he has information that is relevant. This afternoon, during jury instruction, Reinhart’s name was mentioned in court and defense lawyer Adam Levin “objected to Mr Reinhart taking the stand.” Later, Levin told Deadline: ”These mystery emails appear to be a last-ditch effort by the plaintiff to save her case — I want to see the emails”.

2ND UPDATE, 12:27 PM: Here is the official transcript of the voicemail (listen to the audio here) from the Desperate Housewives employee who called Nicollette Sheridan’s lawyer Mark Baute on Sunday afternoon:

Hi Mark. I’m an employee of Desperate Housewives. I received an email soon after Nicollette filed suit; I think it was meant for a much narrower distribution, but it regarded having IT come in and wipe clean the hard drives of the producers in response to the correspondence that they’ve had e-mail wise about firing Nicollette. Um, I think I got it by mistake; I believe they were going to have the Disney IT person come in to do the sweeping of the hard drive .. that’s about all I know; you obviously can check this number and figure out who I am but I really don’t want to get involved. I’m a real low level employee there and I shouldn’t have got that e-mail, I’m on the general email list. but there was definitely a conspiracy to cover up the correspondence on email wise in regards to Nicollette. See ya.

March 11, 2012 at 2:31 pm
8 year full time employee of Touchstone – Desperate Housewives

Nicollette Sheridan Desperate HousewivesUPDATE, 11 AM: Baute said the revelation that ABC attempted to have emails erased from Housewives‘ employees’ hard drives is legitimate. “I spoke to the guy for 45 minutes yesterday on the phone,” Baute told Deadline this morning, “and in my opinion this is for real”. The attorney said he received the voicemail in his office yesterday afternoon and expects that the employee in question will testify tomorrow morning. The plaintiffs rested their case this morning, and the defense has been bringing in a series of witnesses this morning. The jury is expected to receive instructions from the judge this afternoon for deliberations later this week.

PREVIOUS, 9:57 AM: Nicollette Sheridan’s lawyers dropped a bombshell in court this morning during Sheridan’s wrongful termination and battery trial. Mark Baute and Patrick Maloney played a voicemail from a “low-level” Desperate Housewives employee who said he was mistakenly included on an email that indicated ABC intended to use its IT department to wipe everyone’s hard drives of all communications in regard to the killing off of Sheridan’s Edie Britt character. The email was distributed to the series’ senior producers shortly after the actress first filed her suit on April 5, 2010. The staffer stated that there was “definitely a conspiracy to cover up correspondence.” Read More »

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UPDATE: Steve McPherson Says Plan To Kill Off Nicollette Sheridan’s Character Came Before Slap, Calls Trial “Crazy”

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

Desperate Housewives Trial

UPDATE, 2:57 PM: Former ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson told the court this afternoon that he approved the killing off of Nicollette Sheridan’s Edie Britt character in May 2008, months before a head-hitting incident between Sheridan and Cherry on the Desperate Housewives set. He then told Deadline after his brief appearance on the stand that he is surprised the case ever got this far. ”It’s kinda crazy,” McPherson said outside the courtroom. “Both parties are really nice people, and I’m surprised it even made it to trial,” he said. McPherson, who left ABC abruptly in 2010, declined to discuss the Cherry-Sheridan incident but told Deadline it had nothing to do with the actress leaving the series. “We made the decision to get rid of the character six or seven months before anything happened — whatever happened,” he said, echoing his testimony.

On the stand, McPherson confirmed Cherry’s and Pedowitz’s previous testimony that he gave his approval of the decision on May 22, 2008. “I was running the network, they needed my approval to kill of the character”, he told the jury. “I gave my approval.” The alleged Cherry-Sheridan head-slapping incident occurred in September 2008. Under questioning from Cherry defense lawyer Adam Levin, McPherson said he had no emails or memos about the decision because “we wanted to keep it confidential”. He testified that the only people at the meeting in his office that day were himself, Cherry, Pedowitz and Housewives producers Sabrina Wind and Bob Daily. He added that he would have done exactly the same thing in regards to the killing off of any major character on any major network series. “We didn’t want it to get out”, he said. Read More »

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‘Desperate Housewives’ Trial: Nicollette Sheridan Was Kept In Dark About Plan To Kill Off Her Character

By | Thursday March 8, 2012 @ 6:30pm PST

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

UPDATE 6:30 PM: Turns out Teri Hatcher’s Desperate Housewives job was on the chopping block too. George Perkins, the show’s long time line producer, testified this afternoon that Hatcher, the best known of the leads when the series debuted back in 2004, was under consideration to be let go to save money back in 2008. Also under discussion in an effort to cut costs as the series entered its fifth season were James Denton, who has played Hatcher’s love interest on the show from season one, Kyle MacLachlan, who played Marcia Cross’ second husband and Nicollette Sheridan, Perkins said.

Perkins said he was not privy to Cherry’s alleged meetings in May 2008 with then ABC Studios president Pedowitz and then-ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson, expected to testify Friday, about the decision to kill off Sheridan’s character. Perkins, who stressed he was not good with dates and had a bad memory, told the court he first heard of the decision to cut Sheridan in early June or July of 2008 as production on Desperate Housewives fifth season was gearing up. As for the alleged head hitting incident between Cherry and Sheridan on Sept. 24, 2008 that is at the center of the battery case, Perkins’ testimony focused on his efforts to properly manage the fallout from it. Perkins sent an email to ABC Human Resources exec Lynne Volk and the show’s publicists later that day, in which he called what happened a “very minor incident.” Read More »

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‘Desperate Housewives’ Trial: Steve McPherson Set To Take The Stand Friday

By | Wednesday March 7, 2012 @ 4:50pm PST

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor

Marc Cherry Desperate Housewives TrialUPDATE, 4:45 PM: Here comes the big guy — former ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson is slated to testify in Nicollette Sheridan’s wrongful termination and battery trial on Friday at 1:30 PM. McPherson, who left ABC in 2010, has been cited in testimony by Marc Cherry and former ABC Studios president Mark Pedowitz as having given the network’s permission to kill off Sheridan’s Edie Britt character in May 2008, four months before the Cherry allegedly struck Sheridan in the head during an on-set altercation. Sheridan claims she was eliminated from the show because of that latter incident.

Testimony today saw several witnesses take the stand out of order due to scheduling issues, and saw Cherry’s ongoing testimony pause yet again to accommodate those changes. Sabrina Wind, a Desperate Housewives producer and Cherry’s self-described “right-hand gal,” took the stand this afternoon and contradicted several statements her boss made during his testimony. Wind, visibly nervous, said she could not recall getting a call from Cherry shortly after the alleged head-hitting incident between him and Sheridan on September 24, 2008. Sheridan’s lawyer Mark Baute then read from Wind’s deposition last year, in which she said she “did not” receive a call from Cherry as he previously testified. Wind, in another contradiction to Cherry’s testimony, also said she did not keep the producer up to date on a human resources investigation into the alleged incident. Wind, who is Cherry’s partner in Cherry/Wind Productions, also said she knew of no discussions about financial savings or “unprofessional behavior” on Sheridan’s part as reasons for killing off the actress’ character. Read More »

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