Now it's a fight! ABC lawyers up, seeks Nicollette Sheridan depositionWed Jun 16, 2010 @ 08:00PM PST
By Matthew Belloni
EXCLUSIVE: ABC is going on the offensive against fired "Desperate Housewives" co-star Nicollette Sheridan, hiring a litigator, noticing her deposition and taking the first steps toward forcing Sheridan and her reps to turn over private documents in connection with her assault and harassment lawsuit against ABC and series creator Marc Cherry.
The network has hired Adam Levin, an employment litigation specialist at L.A.'s Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp who successfully defended Warner Bros. Television in the high-profile harassment claim filed by a writers' assistant on "Friends." Levin has hit the ground running, serving requests for documents and detailed information on Sheridan and seeking to take her videotaped deposition as soon as possible, perhaps as early as August.
Sheridan made worldwide headlines in April by suing Cherry and ABC for $20 million, claiming that the "Housewives" mastermind struck her on the set and engaged in a pattern of abusive behavior that caused her emotional distress and resulted in her being fired from the hit dramedy due to age and sex discrimination. ABC denied the allegations at the time, saying, "We investigated similar claims last year by Ms. Sheridan and found them to be without merit."
Rather than quietly settle the case, ABC is now choosing to fight it head on. "We have served subpoenas and are vigorously moving forward with our defense," Levin says. In addition to Sheridan, ABC is seeking documents and information from agents at Innovative Artists and Don Buchwald & Associates, as well as publicity house BWR. Other subpoenas could be on the way.
Sheridan's claims for assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress could put her mental and physical condition at issue in the litigation, meaning that ABC could go after certain private medical records if they pertain to her alleged injuries. That's a common tactic in high-stakes cases, forcing plaintiffs to essentially prove their pain.
Sheridan's responses to the requests for documents and information are due in July, although deadlines are typically extended in complex cases. The actress recently refiled her lawsuit with additional allegations, which gives ABC and Cherry until the end of June to file a formal response.