LOS ANGELES (CN) – Jurors in Los Angeles began deliberating Friday whether to slap a restaurateur with punitive damages for her efforts to sweep an abandoned convent out of pop star Katy Perry’s buying hands.
In 2015, local restaurateur and developer Dana Hollister contracted with two nuns from an order that formerly lived at the convent in the Los Feliz neighborhood of LA. Last month, jurors found Hollister had deliberately clouded the property’s title and awarded the LA archbishop $3.4 million and Perry’s company Bird Nest $1.5 million in damages.
With the jury seated again Friday to decide punitive damages, Hollister listened as attorneys described her net worth and business ventures in the LA area. Her attorney Michael Geibelson said the damages awarded in November should be the extent of what Hollister must pay.
Attorneys for the archbishop and Bird Nest, however, said Hollister provided a fraudulent financial statement to the court, undervaluing her assets and exaggerating her debt.
The jury saw two sides of Hollister’s financial assets and loans, which include two restaurants, two former churches and a bar. Hollister’s net worth, according to the document she provided, is approximately $4.4 million.
But Kirk Dillman, attorney for the archbishop, said a 2014 loan application by Hollister listed her net worth at nearly $16 million.
Dillman and Bird Nest attorney Eric Rowen both said the punitive damages “have to hurt” Hollister, to discourage her from interfering in real estate deals like this again.
In 2015, Hollister signed a contract with sisters Rita Callanan and Catherine Rose Holzman, who she believed had the authority to sell the property.
But Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose Gomez was working on selling the property to Perry, who planned to live at the former convent, for $14.5 million. Hollister wants to convert the property into a hotel.
Hollister’s deal with the nuns was not approved by the archbishop or the Holy See, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, which also had to give written approval for the sale of church property.
In Hollister’s financial statement, she listed several properties including a former convent in Silver Lake and a former church, which are rented out for film shoots. She listed the value of the church as zero, with a debt of $833,000.
Perry and the church say Hollister stands to profit from selling the church in five years, either to the tune of $15 million or $13 million if she takes out a loan.
Hollister says she does not have the money to fix up the church, which she called “just a decrepit old church.” She noted any money from its sale would not go to her alone, but to investors and to pay back loans.
“I would get a small amount for setting up the whole deal,” she testified.
Rowen and Dillman said Hollister averaged the value of some of her properties, and said her net worth was more a few years ago. They added her undervaluing of the properties proves her only concern is her pocketbook.
“She lies, she lies, she lies,” said Rowen.
Hollister said she has payroll for her businesses, debt obligations and makes a personal guarantee to pay back personal loans. She lives in the stables of one of her properties, in what her attorney called modest means.
Giebelson said Hollister has no stock, mutual funds or a retirement account. He asked Hollister what she does with her money.
“I put it into the projects I’m working on,” she answered.
To which Rowen countered in closing arguments: “Oh my God, did we just hear a sob story from the poorest rich girl?”
The jury returns for further deliberations on Monday.
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