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Nicollette Sheridan's battery claim tossed out

March 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A judge on Tuesday tossed out Nicollette Sheridan's battery claim against "Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry, paring down the wrongful termination case.

Judge Elizabeth White ruled there was insufficient evidence for Sheridan to claim Cherry struck her during rehearsal. Cherry had maintained that he only tapped Sheridan to explain action he wanted in a scene.

"Obviously, I am thrilled by the judge's decision, but I am going to withhold commentary on this matter until the entire case is resolved," Cherry said outside the courthouse.

Sheridan's case is now whittled down to a single charge: wrongful termination from the show.

"The case is about being fired for being hit and complaining about it at work, which is worth $5.7 million," said Sheridan's attorney Mark Baude.

In a separate decision, Sheridan's case got a boost. The judge allowed testimony from Michael Rinehart, an ABC employee. Rinehart constructs sets for "Desperate Housewives."

Rinehart contacted Sheridan's attorney on Sunday saying an email had been accidentally sent to him two years ago, and the message suggested evidence tampering by Sheridan's bosses.

"It regarded having I.T. come in and wipe clean the hard drives of the producers in response to the correspondence that they've had email-wise about firing Nicollette," Rinehart was heard saying in a voicemail played in court.

Reinhart told the court he had not wanted to get involved because he was worried that he would lose his job. He testified that, "It was gnawing on me, building up building up. My conscience was bothering me enough to act on it."

An attorney for Touchstone responded with vigorous cross examination, asking what exactly the message said and if there was a name on it. Reinhart said he received it two years ago, erased it and couldn't remember. All he could recall were the terms "I.T.," "hard drive" and "delete."

Touchstone attorneys suggested the email was just the opposite of what Reinhart recalled, that it could have been a message to preserve documents, not delete them.

White cleared the way for the defense attorneys to conduct a forensic examination of the computer, but warned them to do it quickly or face a mistrial because she could not hold the jury much longer in this case.

Both sides rested their case on Tuesday. Closing arguments are set for Wednesday.

Disney is the parent company of Touchstone Television and ABC7.

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