Once again the case that never seems to end is thrashing about. And once again, it looks like Nicollette Sheridan is not getting another Desperate Housewives trial. A recent order from a trio of judges on the state 2nd District Court of Appeal has essentially kneecapped LA Superior Court Judge Michael Stern’s January ruling granting the actress another chance to take on ABC/Touchstone Television over being let go from the primetime soap in 2009. The panel said that Stern should “vacate the January 29, 2014 order granting real party Sheridan’s motion for reconsideration and enter a new order denying the motion on the ground the trial court lacked jurisdiction to consider the matter,” declared the August 1 document from Presiding Justice Norman Epstein and Justices Thomas Willhite and Nora Manella (read it here) With an opportunity for a hearing before the panel on October 9 if he wants to challenge the order, Judge Stern has scheduled a hearing of his own for August 19 on the matter in his downtown courtroom. (UPDATE, Aug 19 AM: The motion hearing scheduled today in LA Superior Court has been shifted to September 23. That’s over 2 weeks before the deadline set by the Appeals Court to challenge their order)
If it feels like this has been going on a while – it has. After a parade of former ABC execs and DH executive producer/creator Marc Cherry took the stand, Sheridan’s last trial ended in a mistrial in March 2012 after the jury deadlocked 8-4. Dramatically trimmed down from the original $20 million case, Sheridan was now just claiming that she had been fired from DH because she spoke out against working conditions on the series. After that spring 2012 mistrial, Sheridan and her lawyers had a retrial only to see the Appeals Court put it on ice in June 2012. Then she tried several times to bring a form of the case back. After being denied in lower courts, they went all the way to the California Supreme Court – only to have the appeal denied in November 2012.
In fact, if Stern doesn’t disagree with the Appeals Court, the hearing next week would be the second time he himself has turned Sheridan down after approving a new trial twice now before. In October of last year he sided with Touchstone and denied her attempt at getting a new trial. At that time, Stern’s ruling was based on Sheridan not filing a complaint with the California Labor Commission within six months of the September 2008 incident where Sheridan claimed Cherry struck her on set. In January Stern surprised almost everyone involved and flipped his own ruling – now it looks like things are going back to Square 1.
Sheridan was represented, as she has been since filing her first suit in 2010, by Mark Baute of LA firm Baute Crochetiere & Gilford LLP. He was joined by the firm’s David Crochetiere. Touchstone were represented by Adam Levin of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp. Levin represented the defendants in the first trial.