A three-justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal agreed with attorneys for ABC and Touchstone Television that Sheridan left the show when her contract was not renewed after the show's fifth season, and that barred the actress from receiving a new trial of her wrongful termination lawsuit.
"Sheridan cannot pursue a cause of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy because, contrary to what she claims, she was not fired, discharged or terminated," the court wrote in a 10-page ruling.
The court, however, ruled that Sheridan should be allowed to file an amended lawsuit claiming retaliation, although her damages would be limited to her salary losses.
Adam Levin, an attorney for ABC and Touchstone, wrote in an email that he expects the companies would win again if Sheridan kept pursuing the case. Sheridan's attorney Mark Baute did not return a phone message seeking comment.
The ruling was the latest twist in Sheridan's case, which was first filed in April 2010. She later claimed she was fired after complaining that series creator Marc Cherry struck in the head during an on-set argument.
Cherry and ABC denied the claims, and a judge threw out the battery claim against Cherry. In March, jurors deadlocked after a two-week trial on her wrongful termination allegations, with the panel siding 8-4 in favor of the actress.
"Desperate Housewives" concluded its eight-season run this year.
Sheridan received $4.2 million on her last season of the series, and the studio had options to renew her contract to play the character Edie Britt through the seventh season.
Baute argued that she had recently received a raise and a share of the show's profits but fell out of favor with Cherry and other show executives after complaining about his conduct.