Nicollette Sheridan's 'Desperate Housewives' wrongful termination lawsuit tossed
Nicollette Sheridan's wrongful termination lawsuit against ABC and Touchstone Television, the production company of "Desperate Housewives," has been tossed.
A California appeals court issued the ruling on Thursday, August 16, adding that the actress must pay for the company's costs that it had incurred during the appeals proceedings, which OnTheRedCarpet.com has learned totals up to about $30,000.
Sheridan had claimed that her character, Edie Britt, was killed off in retaliation for complaining about a confrontation with show creator Marc Cherry. She had demanded $6 million in damages for alleged battery and wrongful termination.
"Sheridan's analogy is not persuasive," says the appeals court filing, obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com. "Touchstone did not terminate Sheridan's employment. Instead, her employment expired at the end of Season 5 because Touchstone decided not to exercise its contractual option to hire her for another season."
"Stated another way, this case does not involve a decision to terminate an employee but, instead, a decision not to rehire an employee whose contract would expire on its own terms," it said.
During a trial earlier this year, a judge dismissed her battery complaint, which had served as a key part of the case. The jury was later deadlocked and failed to reach a verdict.
Sheridan tried to obtain a retrial but in early June, the appeals court called it off and ruled that that the lawsuit should have been resolved in favor of Touchsone. The trial's judge was told to made a decision in August to justify why the case should move forward..
"The Court of Appeal correctly found that Ms. Sheridan was not terminated," a lawyer for ABC and Touchstone told OnTheRedcarpet.com. " Instead, her employment ended because Touchstone elected not to renew her contract after her character, Edie Britt, died on the show."
The filing also states that Sheridan is allowed to change her complaint and sue ABC for alleged labor code violations if she wishes to do so. Such moves are typically made when a person feels they were "discharged, threatened with discharge, or discriminated against by his or her employer" due to complaints they made about unsafe work conditions, the court said.
"Here, it is alleged that [the defendant] discriminated against [the plaintiff] by not renewing her employment contract," the filing states. "To prevail on the claim, she must prove that, but for her complaints about unsafe work conditions, [the defendant] would have renewed the employment contract."
Sheridan has not commented, but a source told OnTheRedCarpet.com that the actress is expected to file an amended complaint based on the labor code violation and that the focus of the discussion will be whether she had any damages, since her contract was fulfilled and she got paid for the entire season 5, even though she didn't work on all episodes.
ABC's lawyer said that the company believes it will "prevail on that claim as well," should Sheriden file one.
Sheridan, who appeared on the show from its 2004 debut to 2009, had claimed Cherry struck her on the set on Sept. 24, 2008. He had 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.
Sheridan's attorney has said the actress was fired 60 days after her complaint and that the decision to kill off her character was made in December 2008, after she complained about the confrontation with Cherry. The show's attorney says her fate was sealed in May, before the incident.
Sheridan would have made $200,000 per episode had she starred in all 23 of the sixth season, her last. The show recently wrapped its eighth and final season in May.