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'Desperate Housewives' jury having difficulty w/ verdict

March 16, 2012 6:28:18 PM PDT
Jurors indicated they were having trouble reaching a verdict Thursday afternoon in the "Desperate Housewives" trial involving actress Nicollette Sheirdan and show producer Marc Cherry.

Sheridan launched the suit against Cherry and Touchstone Television after claiming Cherry hit her during a rehearsal and that she was wrongfully terminated after she complained about the alleged battery.

But "complaint" seemed to be the word jurors were hung up on Thursday. The jury asked Judge Elizabeth White for a direct definition of the word, and if a complaint requires issuing a formal accusation against somebody in the workplace, or if bringing up an issue in conversation is sufficient.

After consulting with both defense and prosecution attorneys, White told the jury, "In order to qualify as a complaint, the employee needs to put employer on notice of an alleged improper activity." The judge asked the jury to return Friday at 10 a.m. to continue deliberations.

Meanwhile, Sheridan and her attorney entered court Thursday with a request -- they asked that White request Touchstone Television, which produces Desperate Housewives, to prepare financial records in case the jury decides that Touchstone must pay punitive damages. If the jury says the company must pay a penalty, the jury would need to know how much Touchstone is worth. White however declined the request saying, "Let's wait to see what the jury decides first."

Sheridan huddled with her attorneys in the hallway as the jurors also made a request for scotch tape, post-it stickers and a projector to view the exhibits. During the two weeks of testimony, there were over 100 pieces of evidence submitted. They included clips from "Desperate Housewives," scripts and ideas for storylines.

Sheridan claims that her character, Edie Britt, was killed in the show because she complained that her boss, Cherry, hit her during rehearsal. Touchstone Television told the jury that producers planned to kill off Edie Britt four months before the incident on the set.

Now, the jury must answer three questions:

1-Yes or no: Is Touchstone liable for wrongful termination of Nicollette Sheridan?

2-(If yes) What is the amount of her economic loss?

3- Is Touchstone guilty of malice, oppression or fraud?

If the jury decides yes on the final question, "Desperate Housewives" producers must present financial records and the jury will decide what monetary penalty the studio must pay. In the trial, the plaintiffs asserted that Touchstone earned $1 billion from the show.

Disney is the parent company of Touchstone Television and ABC7.


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