Nicollette Sheridan's attorneys scored a small victory in her legal actions against her former "Desperate Housewives" bosses Tuesday morning, persuading Judge Elizabeth Allen White to shorten the amount of time it has to request sanctions against Touchstone Television and its lawyers for repeatedly bringing up the same issues during her wrongful termination trial.
Sheridan's legal team is seeking $35,000 in sanctions from Touchstone Television, its attorneys Adam Levin and Aaron Wais, and their law firm Mitchell, Silverberg and Knupp. Sheridan's attorneys will also ask the court to impose further sanctions.
Sheridan's attorneys filed papers with Levin seeking sanctions last week. Though typically the court requires 21 days between when a party files papers seeking sanctions against another party and filing with the court, Sheridan's attorney Patrick Maloney asked White to shorten that period due to time restrictions.
Sheridan's attorneys now have until April 17 to make their case for sanctions.
During the ex-parte hearing, a scheduled April 13 conference to set a new trial date was moved to April 18. The defense's motion for a directed verdict on the wrongful termination allegation, which was filed earlier this month, will be decided by White on the 18th.
White declared a mistrial in the case in March, after the jury deadlocked 8-4 in Sheridan's favor. Attorneys for both sides have indicated that they plan to retry the case.
Sheridan had sought $5.7 million from ABC and Touchstone in her wrongful termination lawsuit. The actress claimed that she was fired from "Desperate Housewives" after complaining about an on-set incident during which show creator Marc Cherry gave Sheridan what she characterized as a "nice wallop" to the head. Cherry maintained that he was merely giving the actress stage direction, and that plans to kill off her character, Edie Britt, were in place well before the incident.
In Tuesday's hearing, Sheridan's legal team contends that Touchstone wasted the court's time during trial by bringing up several issues multiple times. For instance, the actress' attorneys contend that defense had brought up six times that Sheridan did not make a "protective complaint" to her employers after "Housewives" creator Marc Cherry allegedly struck her on the set during a September 2008 incident, despite White's previous assertion that her complaint was sufficient.
They also say that Touchstone claimed three times that Sheridan was not entitled to punitive damages, even though White noted that Sheridan had sufficient evidence to pursue such damages.
Sheridan's team further notes that Touchstone and its attorneys had brought up three times that the decision to terminate Sheridan was made in May 2008, months before the alleged slapping incident.
"We're glad the court treated the request for sanctions seriously," Maloney told TheWrap. "It's unfortunate [that] Touchstone continues to raise the same arguments time and time again, which drives up the cost of litigation and wastes the court's time."
Levin, who was present at Tuesday's hearing, had no comment for TheWrap.