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Judge sets new trial date, urges settlement in Nicollette Sheridan case

Nicollette Sheridan.
Nicollette Sheridan.Valerie Macon / Getty Images

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Then again, so do scandalous legacy-staining, show-detracting, headline-grabbing times, which may be why ABC decided to ask a judge to dismiss Nicollette Sheridan's wrongful-termination case against the network.

Alas, the judge didn't bite.

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At a court hearing this morning, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White told both parties that she was denying ABC and Disney's motion to dismiss the case, and instead scheduled a retrial for Sept. 10.

"I very, very strongly urge you to continue settlement discussions," she told the gathered attorneys (Sheridan was not present in court), advising them to continue talks with Judge Helen Bendix in an effort to close the case before reconvening in court this fall for what's expected to be a 12-day trial.

Sheridan is seeking $5.7 million in damages and $35,000 in sanctions from ABC Entertainment for her treatment on "Desperate Housewives," ending with her character being killed off by creator Marc Cherry.

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However, in addition to denying ABC attorney Adam Levin's motion for a directed verdict today, she also shot down Sheridan lawyer Mark Baute's bid to impose the $35,000 against Levin, for supposedly wasting the court's time by rehashing various issues repeatedly during the trial, including that Sheridan did not immediately seek a protective complaint from her employer's after allegedly getting struck on set by Cherry.

"Everything Mr. Levin keeps reminding the press of has been denied," Baute said. "This defendant is putting us through excess work and it warrants sanctions. This motion is a joke, it's frivolous and has been denied every time."

"At some point in time, enough is enough," fellow Sheridan attorney Patrick Maloney said. "It is going to take sanctions to wake people up."

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Outside of court, Baute said he was pleased with White's urging to reach an out of court settlement, but added, "Disney never settles."

Last month, after three weeks of testimony and Cherry being dropped as a defendant, the judge declared a mistrial.

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The jury deadlocked 8-4 in Sheridan's favor, which seemed to put her in a strong position for a second go-round, barring a settlement in the interim.

So maybe all that frolicking on a St. Barts beach over the past few days wasn't so much a vacation as a preemptive victory lap.

-- Reporting by Baker Machado