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'Desperate Housewives' case: Judge declares mistrial

Actress Nicollette Sheridan appears at the Los Angeles premiere of 'Fly Me to the Moon 3-D' on April 7, 2008.

March 19, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
After two weeks of testimony and three days of deliberations, a judge on Monday declared a mistrial in Nicollette Sheridan's wrongful termination case.

The "Desperate Housewives" actress came to court seeking $6 million in damages, but she left with no money and no decision, but she did receive a measure of affirmation from the jury. Sheridan needed nine votes to prevail in her claim of wrongful termination, but she only got eight.

Sheridan claimed that her character, Edie Britt, was killed off in retaliation for her complaints that series creator Marc Cherry struck her on the set in September 2008.

Judge Elizabeth White polled the jurors individually, trying to find a way to untangle the deadlock, but the nine women and three men each said nothing would change their decision.

Touchstone Television called 10 witnesses, including former heads of the studio, who said the decision to end Sheridan's contract was made months before the rehearsal incident. Jurors who sided with Sheridan in her claim against Touchstone said a key issue was Touchstone's witnesses.

"There were a lot of people that some of the jurors found not too credible," said juror Beverly Crosby.

The jurors said there many gray areas that made it impossible to conclude that one side was more correct than the other.

As plans get under way to try the case again, Sheridan's attorney Mark Baute claimed a moral victory.

"You can say eight jurors looked at the best you had to offer, your highest level executives out of business fairs and presidents, and they didn't buy what you were selling," Baute said.

The defense said Touchstone won, too. Sheridan initially made multiple claims against the company, but her battery allegation was tossed out during the trial, and the jury was left with a single charge of wrongful termination.

Cherry and ABC have denied wrongdoing, and say the decision to cut Sheridan's role was made four months before the on-set dispute.

Disney is the parent company of Touchstone Television Productions and ABC7.

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