A jury should decide whether Nicollette Sheridan’s character was unfairly written out of the hit show “Desperate Housewives,” ajudge ruled Tuesday.
With the actress looking on, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White tossed a couple of Sheridan’s claims but said there was enough of a dispute about what led to her ouster for the case to go to trial next month.
Sheridan sued the show’s network ABC and “Housewives” creator and executive producer Marc Cherry in April 2010, claiming he struck her during a fight in September 2008 and subjected her to sexual and other harassment.
Adam Levin, an attorney for the network and Cherry, argued Tuesday that the decision to kill off Sheridan’s character, Edie Britt, was made months before her argument with the show executive. He said the decision was made by Cherry and a small group in May 2008 and kept from others on the show to avoid ruining the surprise.
Sheridan’s attorney, Mark Baute, disagreed and said the network’s justification that it was a cost-cutting move didn’t make sense since Sheridan’s character was killed off in a car accident in the middle of the season and she was still owed hundreds of thousands of dollars on her contract.
After listening to several minutes of arguments about disputed facts in the case, White said, “It’s clear to the court that this is something that needs to go to a jury.”
Her ruling threw out sexual harassment and assault claims, but Sheridan’s attorneys will be able to seek damages on wrongful termination, battery and unlawful retaliation claims and can still seek punitive damages.
“I’m very happy that I’m being treated fairly,” Sheridan said after the hearing.
Levin said many of the Sheridan’s claims have been thrown out since the actress filed her lawsuit last year, seeking $20 million.
“We’re confident that a jury looking at all of the evidence and the numerous witnesses will conclude the character Edie Britt was killed off of ‘Desperate Housewives’for lawful reasons and Ms. Sheridan was never battered,” Levin said after the hearing.
The trial is scheduled to begin June 8.