Nicollette Sheridan was not wrongfully fired from Desperate Housewives, an appeals court ruled Thursday, but the actress should be allowed to pursue claims that she was retaliated against for complaining that the show’s creator struck her.
A three justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal agreed with attorneys for ABC and Touchstone Television that Sheridan’s contract was not renewed after the show’s fifth season and that barred the actress from receiving a new trial on her wrongful termination lawsuit.
The court, however, ruled that Sheridan should be allowed to file an amended lawsuit claiming retaliation, although her damages would be limited to her salary losses.
The ruling is the latest twist in Sheridan’s case, which was first filed in April 2010 and was slated for a re-trial on her claim that she was fired after complaining that series creator Marc Cherry struck in the head during an on-set argument.
Cherry and ABC denied the claims, and a judge threw out the battery claim against Cherry. In March, jurors deadlocked after a two-week trial on her wrongful termination allegations, with the panel siding eight votes to four for the actress.
“Sheridan cannot pursue a cause of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy because, contrary to what she claims, she was not fired, discharged or terminated,” the court wrote in a 10-page ruling.
Desperate Housewives concluded its eight-season run this year.
Attorneys for ABC and Sheridan did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment Thursday afternoon.
Sheridan received $4.2 million on her last season of the series and the studio had options to renew her contract through the seventh season. Her attorney, Mark Baute, argued that she had recently received a raise and a share of the show’s profits but fell out of favor with Cherry and other show executives after complaining about his conduct.