Marc Cherry Off the Hook In 'Housewives' Lawsuit

3/13/2012 12:30 PM PDT

Marc Cherry -- Off the Hook in 'Desperate Housewives' Lawsuit

A crushing blow to Nicollette Sheridan's wrongful termination suit -- the judge just threw out the actress' battery claim against "Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry ... meaning Cherry is no longer a defendant.

It was the crux of her wrongful termination action -- Nicollette claimed Marc struck her in the face during a rehearsal in 2008 ... then ABC fired her when she complained.

Marc admitted to touching her face -- in the context of demonstrating how he wanted a particular scene to play out -- but when she took the stand, Nicollette called it an unprovoked "wallop."

The judge found Sheridan's claims did not meet the standard of proof for battery -- and since the battery claim was the only cause of action against Cherry ... he's officially in the clear.

Nicollette's wrongful termination claim against ABC will still move forward -- but the judge's decision does not bode well.