Actress Nicollette Sheridan has been dealt a huge blow in her ongoing lawsuit against Desperate Housewives bosses and series creator Marc Cherry - a Los Angeles judge has dismissed the battery allegations at the center of her claim for damages.
Sheridan filed suit in 2010, alleging she was fired from the show after she complained to ABC network executives about an on-set incident with Cherry in 2008, which ended with the writer/producer hitting her on the head to demonstrate an action in a scene.
Testifying in court last week Cherry confessed he had felt awful about striking Sheridan, but explained that he was just acting out what he wanted for a particular shot. He also told the jury that the decision to kill off her character Edie Britt had been made months before the incident.
On Tuesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White issued a direct ruling to dismiss the battery claim due to a lack of evidence. The verdict means Cherry is no longer a defendant, and the case is now solely between Sheridan and ABC network bosses.
Addressing reporters after the ruling, Cherry said, "Obviously I'm thrilled by the judge's decision. But I'm going to withhold further comment until this matter is resolved completely."
The decision wasn't the only shocker in Tuesday's court proceedings - a surprise witness testified that TV bosses planned to delete all correspondence about Sheridan's firing from production computers. As the jury prepared to deliberate on almost two weeks of arguments, Sheridan's legal team presented one final witness - on-set construction co-ordinator Michael Reinhart - who told the court he agreed to come forward and reveal all about an email TV bosses had sent to production managers and officials following Sheridan's departure, because he felt bad about trying to ignore it back in 2008.
Reinhart testified he felt "disturbed" by the email and immediately erased it.
He told Cherry and ABC's lead attorney he could not recall exactly what was in the email, but it included the words "delete," "hard drive" and "producers."
Reinhart also told the court he was a reluctant witness, because of "the professional ramifications" of his testimony on his career. He told L.A. Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White he felt he was committing "professional suicide" by speaking out.
Closing arguments are expected to begin on Tuesday afternoon. The case is expected to be handed to the jury on Wednesday.