Sheridan amends "Desperate Housewives" lawsuit

Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:54am EDT
 
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By Matthew Belloni

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Fired "Desperate Housewives" co-star Nicollette Sheridan has updated her lawsuit against series creator Marc Cherry and ABC, alleging for the first time that the network investigated her claim of physical abuse on the set and told her that it was merely a "light tap on the side of the head."

Sheridan's lawyers have quietly filed an amended complaint in her $20 million, seven-count lawsuit for wrongful termination, assault and battery, and discrimination. While it nearly mirrors the original (some language has been cleaned up and a few of the claims are more clearly stated), two interesting paragraphs have been added.

In the wake of Sheridan's bombshell April 5 lawsuit alleging that Cherry struck her on the "Housewives" set and engaged in a pattern of abusive behavior, ABC said only that "we investigated similar claims last year by Ms. Sheridan and found them to be without merit." At the time, Cherry and ABC executives reportedly told people the "incident" was merely Cherry rehearsing a scene with Sheridan involving a slap.

Now Sheridan confirms that was exactly ABC's excuse to her. She also says she was told to go back to work and finish the season "in the spirit of professionalism" but was instead unprofessionally terminated two months later and forced to put on a happy face for the press.

Here are the two paragraphs added the amended lawsuit:

In December 2008, Sheridan was informed that ABC had fully investigated her complaint and had concluded that she was not mistreated. In fact, the Executive Vice President of ABC Studios, Howard Davine, claimed that "Marc (Cherry) simply gave her a light tap on the side of her head for the sole purpose of providing direction for a scene they were rehearsing." With that, ABC decided to take no further action and closed the investigation, informing Sheridan that "we will finish off the season in the spirit of professionalism and courtesy that has been the normal course for Desperate Housewives."

However, rather than a season of "professionalism and courtesy," Sheridan was informed in February 2009 that her employment on the Show was going to be terminated and that her character, Edie Britt, was being killed off the Show. She was to film her final episode the last week of February 2009 and first week of March. Sheridan was given a strict publicity plan to follow to "break the story" that her character Edie Britt was leaving the Show.

Why did Sheridan's lawyers amend the complaint to add two paragraphs claiming ABC looked into the claim and found it meritless? Neither Sheridan's deal lawyer Neil Meyer nor her litigators Mark Baute and Patrick Maloney returned calls. ABC declined to comment on the amended complaint, filed May 20 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

 
<p>Actress Nicollette Sheridan from "Desperate Housewives" arrives at the 14th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles January 27, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>