‘Directed verdict’ vs. Sheridan sought

But thesp's attorneys say new trial is warranted

Following the mistrial declaration in Nicollete Sheridan’s wrongful termination suit, attorneys for “Desperate Housewives” creator Marc Cherry and Touchstone Television are asking a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to declare a verdict in their favor.

Sheridan’s attorneys, however, say that there is enough evidence disputing Touchstone’s version of events to warrant a new trial.

Last month, a jury deadlocked in a vote of 8-4 in Sheridan’s favor, one vote shy of the nine needed to render a verdict in a civil case.

Sheridan claims that her character of Edie Britt was killed off from the show in 2009 after she complained about a Sept. 24, 2008 incident in which Cherry struck her as she queried him about a line that was dropped from the script. Cherry contends that he merely tapped her as part of direction for an upcoming scene.

In a motion for “directed verdict” filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Touchstone’s attorneys, Adam Levin and Aaron Wais, contend that Judge Elizabeth Allen White is entitled to issue a verdict in cases where there is “no evidence of sufficient subsantiality.” Touchstone contends that was borne out during the trial, citing the testimony of former Touchstone chief Mark Pedowitz, who said that he gave approval to kill off the Britt character on May 22, 2008, months before the incident. “Obviously, Pedowitz’s decision could not have been influenced by an event and report that had not yet happened,” their motion stated. Although Sheridan’s legal team offered witnesses contradicting when the decision was made, Touchstone’s attorneys say that none were present at the May 22 meeting “and so can only speculate as to what was decided and when.”

Sheridan’s attorneys, Mark Baute and Patrick Maloney, on Monday filed a brief contending that, before the trial, White has already weighed and rejected previous motions to issue a verdict, including a denial of summary judgment. Although Pedowitz testified that the decision was made on May 22, they said that other witnesses offered conflicting testimony. Among the evidence they cite is the testimony of Lori Kirkland Baker, a writer on the show, who said that it was in December of 2008 that Cherry “stormed into the writer’s room, closed the door, and told the writing staff he had just received approval from Steve McPherson (then head of ABC) to kill off Edie Britt.” They also say that Sheridan continues to have a viable claim for punitive damages.

Sheridan sued Cherry, Touchstone and ABC in 2010.

A hearing is scheduled for April 13.

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