Los Angeles

Judge Says Convent Case Settlement Closes Door on New Trial Considerations

A panel awarded the archdiocese $3.47 million in compensatory damages and $1.57 million to Katie Perry and her company.

A judge Thursday said she will not hold any hearings for a new trial in the wake of a settlement between a Silver Lake businesswoman who agreed to collectively pay $6.5 million to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Katy Perry for interfering in the sale of a former Los Feliz convent to the singer.

However, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie Bowick said she will hold status conferences through 2021 for updates on whether Dana Hollister is making her scheduled settlement payments. In 2017, a jury found Hollister liable for slander of title, interference with contractual relations and interference with prospective economic advantage.

The panel awarded the archdiocese $3.47 million in compensatory damages and $1.57 million to Perry and her company, The Bird Nest LLC. The jury also found that Hollister acted with malice, oppression or fraud, triggering the second phase of trial to determine if the archdiocese, the California Institute of the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary and Perry should be awarded punitive damages.

The panel awarded another $10 million in December for a total of $15 million. In June, the parties reached a settlement in which Hollister agreed to pay the archdiocese, Perry and The Bird Nest $6.5 million with interest. The first payment, for $1 million, is due by July 25, 2019. Another $2 million is required by July 25, 2020, and the final payment of $3.5 million by Jan. 25, 2021.

Archdiocese lawyer Kirk Dillman said it is up to his client and Perry to decide how the $6.5 million settlement money will be divided. Hollister's attorney, Daniel Allender, said he wanted to keep the door open for a hearing on a motion for a new trial as a precaution.

"I don't know if the other parties will keep their end of the bargain," Allender said. But Bowick said such a motion would not be appropriate in the wake of the settlement. Archdiocese lawyer M. Storm Byrd said the new-trial issue signaled a return by Hollister to "a pattern of behavior of stalling and delaying."

Hollister made her purchase of the onetime convent with the cooperation of Sisters Rita Callanan and Catherine Rose Holzman, who maintained they had the authority to sell the Waverly Drive property to the businesswoman. Bowick later canceled the deal.

Holzman and Callanan, who died in March, were among five members of the institute and were the only members who opposed the sale of their former home to the 33-year-old "Roar" singer. The sale to Perry was for $14.5 million, consisting of $10 million in cash and an agreement to provide an alternative property for a house of prayer worth $4.5 million, according to the archdiocese. In contrast, Hollister paid $44,000 and agreed to a contingent promissory note to pay $9.9 million in three years, Dillman said.

Callanan still has an appeal pending in the case and has not yet decided whether to pursue it, her attorney, Neil Lloyd, told the judge during the hearing via speaker phone.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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