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Court awards $5 million to Katy Perry, L.A. Archdiocese in case over sale of convent

(Reuters/Yuri Gripas)Singer Katy Perry performs at a concert commemorating the Special Olympics at the White House in Washington, July 31, 2014.

A Los Angeles jury has ordered restaurant owner Dana Hollister to pay Katy Perry and the L.A. Archdiocese $5 million after losing a legal battle to buy a former convent in the hills of Los Feliz.

The legal battle over the sale of the property began when nuns who used to live there opposed the sale to Perry, who had offered $14.5 million for the eight-acre convent.

Hollister, who owns L.A.'s vaunted Cliff's Edge, Brite Spot and Paramour Estate, had reportedly bought the Los Feliz convent from Sisters Catherine Rose Holzman and Rita Callanan, but a judge has ruled in March that the right to sell the property lay with the archdiocese, not the nuns.

On Friday, the jury had awarded $3.47 million in legal fees to the archdiocese, and $1.57 million to Perry's company, Bird Nest LLC, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The jury found that Hollister acted with malice, oppression or fraud for her attempts to thwart the sale of the property to the famous singer.

The second phase of the trial is set to begin next month to determine if Perry and the archdiocese should be awarded punitive damages.

"I am thrilled with the outcome. It just proves that we have been right all the way along," said Perry's manager, Steve Jensen.

Hollister's attorney, Michael Geibelson, said he was disappointed by the jury's decision and expressed plans to appeal the case.

He also called on the jury to examine the accounting behind the legal fees, saying they were excessive.

"There were a bunch of lawyers who exploited this lawsuit to bill a whole bunch of time," he said.

The nuns have argued that they have the right to sell the property, but Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie Bowick noted in her ruling in March that they never got permission from the Vatican.

Hollister, who plans to turn the property into a boutique hotel, said that she has been using back channels in Rome to appeal to the Vatican and Pope Francis to buy the convent for $30 million.

"I offered up to $24 million, and I am currently at $30 million for the property," she said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "It could be one of the most beautiful properties in Los Angeles — the most beautiful hotel you have ever seen," she added.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Adrian Marquez Alarcon noted that Perry still has to find a building to replace the Cardinal Timothy Manning House of Prayer for Priests, a 24-bed structure on the property that is used as a retreat, as the terms of the deal to sell her the property is being finalized.

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