'Desperate Housewives' trial: Jury deadlocked on Nicollette Sheridan's wrongful termination case
A Los Angeles jury that was set to determine Nicollette Sheridan's wrongful termination case regarding the death of her "Desperate Housewives" character, Edie Britt, is deadlocked and was unable to reach a verdict on Friday, March 16.
The trial began two weeks ago. Closing arguments were made on Wednesday, March 14. Sheridan had claimed that her character was killed off in retaliation for complaining about a confrontation with creator Marc Cherry. She had demanded $6 million in damages for alleged battery and wrongful termination.
The jury is made up of 12 people. Its foreperson told the judge on Friday that he believes jury is hopelessly deadlocked, OnTheRedCarpet.com has learned. The split is 8-4, also it is unclear if more people voted in favor Sheridan, rather than the show's studio, Touchstone Television. At least nine of the 12 jurors must decide one way or another for a verdict to be reached.
The judge told the jurors to return on Monday, March 19, at 9:30 a.m. local time to deliberate more and she will declare a mistrial if they do not reach a verdict then. If that happens, Sheridan may have to begin a new trial with different jurors.
ABC attorney Adam Levin was asked by reporters later on Friday if the parties had reached a settlement, following media speculation.
"Absolutely not," he said.
On Tuesday, a judge dismissed a battery complaint she had made against Cherry, which had served as a key part of the case.
The actress claimed he struck her on the set and he said that while he never asked permission to touch her, he gave her a "tap" on the side of her head as a demonstration, while trying to explain a scene. Her case was then aimed solely against Touchstone Television, also known as ABC Television Studios.
"Intelligence is in short supply these days. It is especially in short supply at Touchstone," Sheridan's attorney Mark Baute told the jury on Wednesday.
He accused witnesses who testified for the company, which included show executives and writers, of hiding facts and maintained that the decision to kill off Sheridan's character was made in December 2008, months after she complained about the confrontation with Cherry on Sept. 24, 2008. The show's attorney's say her fate was sealed in May, months before the incident.
Baute said Sheridan was fired 60 days after her complaint, which he called the "essence of retaliation."
Adam Levin, the lead attorney for Cherry and ABC, said during his closing argument that Sheridan and her lawyer were making use of "desperate" theories, addding: "Desperate is claiming that 10 good citizens of California conspired to get their story straight."
The 12 jurors, most of whom are women, have to also decide if Sheridan did substantial work for Touchstone Television, if the company declined to renew her contract just because she complained about unsafe working conditions, whether or not the firm acted fairly and if the actress was harmed by its conduct.
Sheridan would have made $200,000 per episode had she starred in all 23 of the sixth season, her last. The show is now on its eighth and final season.
She is also suing for loss of interest, which her lawyer calculated to be at 10 percent, and loss of residuals of $155,000 that she could have earned from first airings and reruns. The total amount of these damages comes up to $5,762,397. Punitive damages have not been calculated.