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 10 is hereby stayed pending further order of the court.” The appeals court ruling seems to agree with defendant Touchstone Television Productions and ABC Studios that it is not wrongful termination under state law when a contract renewal is not exercised. However, Sheridan’s lawyer Mark Baute points out the court order notes the case can be examined under Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s labor code violations. Baute also says the court wants the wrongful termination claim more fully laid out and he will be filing those briefs soon. “The temporary stay is designed to clarify and resolve those issues before the September trial starts,” says Baute. Adam Levin, ABC’s main lawyer in the case, did not respond to a request for comment. A hearing is set for August 9 for trial Judge Elizabeth Allen White to make her case for a retrial.
Sheridan’s first case against Touchstone, ABC Studios, ABC Entertainment and Desperate Housewives’ Executive Producer Marc Cherry ended in a mistrial on March 19 when the jury was deadlocked. Cherry was dismissed as a defendant before the end of the first trial and would not have been a defendant in any retrial. Sheridan has contended that her character was suddenly killed off in early 2009 because of complaints she made over an alleged head-hitting incident on the Desperate Housewives set with executive producer and series creator Cherry on Sept. 24, 2008. The three weeks of the first trial saw a parade of former ABC executives, such as former ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson and former ABC Studios boss Mark Pedowitz, and both Sheridan and Cherry, among others, take the stand. Desperate Housewives aired its final episode on May 13, 2012.