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.
Cherry and ABC always insisted the departure of the character and the actress had been decided months before the hitting incident, which the producer has characterized as a light “tap.” Former ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson and former ABC Studios boss Mark Pedowitz were among the witnesses called who confirmed Cherry’s story. Cherry ceased to be a defendant when midway through the first trial, Judge White threw out the battery claim Sheridan had against the producer. Desperate Housewives itself came to an end just two months after the trial. The show wrapped up its eight-season run on May 13.
Managing Editor Denise Petski contributed to this story.