Statement from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on verdict in trial for damages against developer Dana Hollister
Angelus Staff Dec. 4, 2017
The main concern of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is and has always been the care and well-being of all the IHM Sisters. In 2015, the Archdiocese was forced to take legal action on behalf of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) Sisters to protect them from an illegal and invalid sale of their property. Without proper approval, developer Dana Hollister took possession of their former convent in Los Feliz, known as the Waverly property, for just $44,000 and a contingent promissory note without any guarantee that the Sisters would ever receive any additional payment.
The litigation resulted in a jury trial before Judge Bowick. On November 17 the jury awarded the Archdiocese and IHM Institute $3.47 million, the full amount of damages they sought in legal fees caused when Hollister improperly and illegally recorded a deed transferring ownership of the former IHM convent.
The jury also found that Hollister acted with malice, oppression or fraud, with respect IHM Institute and the Archdiocese, sufficient to support an award of punitive damages against Hollister. Today, the jury reconvened to determine punitive damages and awarded $6.67 million to the IHM Institute and Archdiocese. The Archdiocese is grateful to the members of the jury for their service.
Hollister’s actions left the IHM Sisters with almost nothing for their property, while she took possession of their former convent to prevent the sale of the property to singer Katy Perry who had presented a cash offer for $14.5 million dollars for the Waverly property and a replacement for the House of Prayer of Priests. The proceeds from any sale of the property will be for the IHM Institute to be used for the care and well-being of all five remaining Sisters.
Judge Bowick previously ruled in March 2017 and April 2016 that the Hollister sale was invalid and that Hollister has no right, title or valid interest in the property. The IHM Institute is the rightful owner of the property. However, Hollister continued to challenge the ruling in court.
Hollister’s actions have kept the Archdiocese in litigation for more than two years costing millions of dollars in legal fees funded by the Archdiocese on behalf of itself and the IHM Institute. The November 17 award sought to recover legal fees as damages caused when Hollister improperly and illegally recorded a deed transferring ownership of the former IHM convent.
Hollister knowingly took advantage of two of the elderly sisters which jeopardized the future health and well-being of all IHM Sisters. The Archdiocese and counsel for Ms. Perry were in court seeking a just resolution in the best interest of all the five remaining IHM Sisters and to hold Hollister accountable for damages and legal fees.
The Waverly property had been vacant since 2011 because it became too costly for the retired Sisters to maintain and no longer accommodated their physical needs. The IHM Sisters agreed to have the Archdiocese sell their former convent on their behalf in 2014. Regardless of any sale, the Archdiocese has pledged to take care of all of the IHM Sisters for the rest of their lives.
For more information on the litigation concerning the Waverly property, read the related article: Court rules against real estate mogul who pressured nuns with ‘bad deal’