“Desperate Housewives” jury was deadlocked 8-4 in favor of Nicollette Sheridan. Her attorney says she’ll retry wrongful termination case against ABC and Touchstone
The judge in the "Desperate Housewives" trial on Monday declared a mistrial in Nicollette Sheridan's wrongful termination suit against ABC and Touchstone.
The jury of nine women and three men in L.A. Superior Court was deadlocked 8-4 in favor of Sheridan after deliberating into a third day.
"You'd think we'd be disappointed but we're not," Sheridan's attorney Mark Baute said outside the courtroom. "We got our story out there. We went up against a $50 million conglomerate that had 10 witnesses, and eight jurors said, 'No, I'm not buying what you're selling.'"
As to the likelihood Sheridan would come back to try the case again: "One hundred and ten percent" Baute said.
Also read: 'Desperate Housewives' Case Goes to the Jury
The two sides agreed to an April 13 conference to set a date for a new trial
"We're ready to retry and we're confident we'll prevail," Adam Levin, lead attorney for ABC and Touchstone, said after the ruling.
Baute told TheWrap that he thought Sheridan would have an advantage in a retrial.
"The second trial will be fun," Baute said, "partly because we've now seen everything they had to throw at us, and we now have transcripts on all their witnesses."
Outside the courtroom, juror Beverly Crosby, who sided with Sheridan, said she believed the actress "was touched without her permission," and that in her estimation the situation "wasn't handled correctly" by ABC and Touchstone.
She also said Cherry's testimony didn't help the case for ABC and Touchstone, pointing out that "some of the jurors found him not too credible."
A battery charge against the show's creator had been dismissed in a directed verdict by Judge Elizabeth Allen White last week, and Cherry will not be part of any further proceedings. The judge had the two sides meet in an attempt to reach a settlement after the jury said on Friday that it was deadlocked.
The actress sued ABC, Touchstone and Cherry for $6 million, claiming she was fired from the show in February 2009 as retaliation for complaining that Cherry had struck her in the head on Sept. 24, 2008.
The incident occurred during the show's fifth season, which was Sheridan's final one on the series.
Cherry maintained he hadn't hit her and was merely giving stage direction to Sheridan. Her case suffered a setback when the battery charge was dropped a day before it went to the jury.
The defense built its case on testimony from Cherry, along with the former head of ABC Studios Mark Pedowitz and several others, who said that the decision to kill off Sheridan’s character Edie Britt came four months prior to the incident, on May 22, 2008.
Two former writers called by the plaintiffs — Lori Kirkland Baker and Jeffrey Greenstein — contested that account.
The case, which lasted nearly two weeks, had some plot twists worthy of a "Desperate Housewives" episode.
While testifying last week that Sheridan's Edie Britt was not the only high-profile character to be killed off the show, line producer George Perkins let slip that James Denton's character, Mike Delfino, was to die in the show's next episode. And he did.
On Monday, Sheridan's attorney Mark Baute said he had received an anonymous voicemail from a caller who claimed he learned of an ABC conspiracy to cover up details of the case when he received an email by mistake.
Judge White ordered the "mystery witness" found — he turned out to be the show's set construction coordinator Mike Reinhart — and forensic tests conducted on his computer. Ultimately allowed to testify, Reinhart admitted he had deleted the email.
The trial has provided some excitement as the show heads to its finale in this its eighth and last season.
Once one of TV hottest shows and major water-cooler fodder, its audience has dwindled to roughly a third of its first season high point.
Where its first season, in 2004-2005, averaged a 10.4 rating/23 share in the adults 18-49 demographic and 24 million total viewers, its current season to date has averaged a 3.5/8 in the demo and 10.3 million total viewers.
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