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 in court on December 2, LA Superior Court judge Michael Stern ruled today. Stern’s ruling came after denying a motion by the defendants to have the case dismissed. Sheridan’s lawyers filed an amended complaint for their client under a section of the California Labor Code that is designed to protect employees from losing their jobs if they make a complaint about workplace safety. This amended complaint follows a three-judge appeals court panel ruling last August that Sheridan could pursue claims that she was retaliated against after complaining that creator Marc Cherry struck her in the head during an on-set argument in September 2008. The lawsuit over Sheridan’s original claims that her Housewives character Edie Britt was suddenly killed off in early 2009 and she was wrongfully fired from her starring role on the ABC drama resulted in a deadlocked jury on March 19th of last year. That trial saw ABC executives past and present as well as Sheridan and Cherry among others take the stand. 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.” Cherry ceased to be a defendant when midway through the first trial, Judge Elizabeth Allen 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.
A hearing on a retrial was scheduled for September 10 but then taken off the calendar in June last year when Touchstone sought a ruling through the Appeals Court on its contention that it is not wrongful termination under state law when a contract renewal is not exercised. Subsequent appeals hearings did not go in the actress’ favor. However, The judges ruling in August did provide an opening for Sheridan to move forward again under a different avenue. In the case that will now begin at the end of the year, Sheridan’s damages would be limited to loss of wages and benefits, a far less than the $20 million she originally filed for in April 2010. Sheridan was represented, as she was in the first trial, by Mark Baute of LA firm Baute Crochetiere & Wang. 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.