“The Court finds that the Defendant has presented substantial undisputed evidence of the creative decision to kill off Sheridan’s character, developed over several seasons of the show,” Judge Holly Kendig wrote in a January 12 ruling granting a motion for summary judgment by Touchstone TV in the actor’s claim of retaliation against the ABC unit.
“Thus … Touchstone’s legitimate reasons for killing off Sheridan’s character would have resulted in the same decision,” the LA Superior Court judge added in the just-released ruling (read it here). “Sheridan has not presented a triable issue of fact showing that retaliatory animus was a ‘substantial motivating factor’ of the employment decision.”
Not that this latest loss is going to stop Sheridan, says her main lawyer. “We look forward to winning in front of the court of appeal, again,” Mark Baute told Deadline.
As is evident from the Baute Crochetiere & Gilford LLP attorney’s remarks, and as anyone who has been watching the past few years recalls, Sheridan’s legal pursuit has seen a series of victories and losses in a variety of jurisdictions.
Most recently, the actor’s efforts looked to see a new trial get a June 5, 2017, start date after the 2nd District Court of Appeal revived the matter in October 2015. The unanimous opinion penned by Justice Thomas Willhite jilted the October 2013 ruling by Judge Michael Stern denying Sheridan another trial. This was based on a 2013 amendment to the California Labor Code that altered the process so that “there is no requirement that an individual exhaust administrative remedies or procedures” — which had previously proved too high a hurdle for Sheridan.
In the 2012 trial, the suit for which was filed two years beforehand, Sheridan claimed that DH creator and EP Marc Cherry had intentionally struck her on set in 2008 while the two were disagreeing, to put it mildly, over a scene. The actor insisted that her complaining about the incident to network execs was what resulted in her being tossed from the once-ratings-dominating show, which ended its run in May 2012. Later released as a defendant from that case, Cherry testified that discussions of getting rid of Sheridan’s Eddie Britt character preceded the incident and her termination had zero to do with it. He was backed up by former ABC executives like current CW boss Mark Pedowitz and then-programming chief Steven McPherson.
It is unlikely that Cherry would have been called as a witness if the new trial had gone forward. However, a witness list did have Sheridan’s DH co-stars Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman, Teri Hatcher and Marcia Cross are on it — though that didn’t ensure they would be taking the stand.
Adam Levin of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP since almost Day 1 continues to represent ABC and Touchstone in the matter.