updated 04/05/2010 AT 9:45 PM ET
•originally published 04/05/2010 AT 8:45 PM ET
It’s a lawsuit worthy of a juicy Desperate Housewives storyline.
Nicollette Sheridan alleges the show’s creator hit her in the face on the set and that she was then fired in retaliation for complaining about him, “resulting in her losing millions in future earnings,” says the suit filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Sheridan, whose character was killed off the show last year, is suing for $20 million, alleging assault and battery, gender violence and wrongful termination. She claims series creator Marc Cherry created a hostile work environment, “behaving in an extremely abusive and aggressive manner.”
Sheridan, a Golden Globe nominee who played sexy Realtor Edie Britt, claims that Cherry directed his abuse at other cast and crew members, even at star Teri Hatcher after she went above his head to ABC executives.
“I hope Teri Hatcher gets hit by a car and dies,” Cherry told Sheridan, according to the lawsuit.
ABC Studios says in a statement: “While we have yet to see the actual complaint, we investigated similar claims made by Ms. Sheridan last year and found them to be without merit.”
Sheridan, whose contract called for her to earn $175,000 an episode going up to $250,000 in later years, claimed that in the summer of 2008 she tried to meet privately with Cherry “in an effort to discuss his negative demeanor toward her and to discuss whether he had a problem with her work,” the lawsuit says.
Cherry told her he didn’t have a problem with her and apologized, only to lash out at her again, behaving in a “rude and degrading manner,” leading up to a clash on the set during a Sept. 24, 2008, rehearsal, the lawsuit claims.
“When Sheridan questioned Cherry about something that was in the script, Cherry took her aside and forcefully hit her with his hand across her face and head,” the lawsuit says.
A humiliated Sheridan yelled back, “You just hit me in the head. That is not okay. THAT IS NOT OKAY!” according to the lawsuit.
Cherry went to her trailer to “beg forgiveness,” the lawsuit says, but after Sheridan reported him to ABC, his behavior allegedly worsened. She was informed in February 2009 that her character was being written off the show and she was being fired, according to the lawsuit.
“The decision to kill off Sheridan’s character demonstrates that Cherry and ABC intended to and did retaliate against Sheridan for her complaints about Cherry,” the lawsuit says. The lawsuit notes that although some of the male characters were killed off the show, “none of the female characters had ever before been killed off or written out of the show.”
The lawsuit was first reported by TMZ.