LOS ANGELES — A judge told attorneys for a businesswoman and two nuns who oppose the sale of a former Los Feliz convent to Katy Perry to further explain how deposing the singer and others will shed light and help them defeat two upcoming opposition motions in the ongoing litigation.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie Bowick Oct. 21 told attorney John Scholnick, on behalf of Sisters Rita Callanan and Catherine Rose Holzman, and lawyer Randy Snyder, who represents restaurant owner Dana Hollister, to fully explain what knowledge the proposed deponents have concerning authority and control over the California Institute of the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Bowick set another hearing for Oct. 31.
“I am trying to resolve the issues for you all,” Bowick said.
Callanan and Holzman are two of five members of the institute. They used to live in the convent and maintain they had authority to sell the Waverly Drive property to Hollister, but the Los Angeles Archdiocese disputes that contention and said the archbishop’s approval was required.
The archdiocese started the litigation by filing suit against Hollister in June 2015, stating that Hollister is considering using the property for a boutique hotel with a restaurant and bar. According to that lawsuit, the archdiocese’s lease of the buildings for a priests’ house of prayer has a remaining term of 77 years.
Callanan and Holzman later joined the litigation as intervenors and Perry, through her company, The Bird Nest LLC, did so via a cross-complaint.
In April, Bowick granted motions by the archdiocese and Bird Nest that appeared to cancel the convent’s sale to Hollister and clear the way for Perry’s acquisition of the property. The judge said the sisters needed the approval of the archbishop to sell the convent.
However, the nuns sought a ruling from the 2nd District Court of Appeal directing Bowick to set aside those orders.
In September, the appellate court chose not to reverse Bowick. But the judge did set aside her April rulings to allow additional fact-finding by lawyers for Hollister and the nuns in the wake of the announced intentions by lawyers for the archdiocese and Bird Nest attorneys to file motions aimed at once again enabling the sale to Perry. A hearing on those motions is scheduled in December.
Scholnick said Perry signed the agreement for the sale of the convent to her company and she therefore may have knowledge about the archdiocese’s authority to make the acquisition.
“[Katy Perry] is not a newcomer to this transaction,” Scholnick said. “She’s been looking at this property for about two years.”
Scholnick has also proposed deposing Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez.
However, attorneys for Bird Nest and the archdiocese said Perry does not have any relevant information regarding authority and control over the institute and that having her be deposed would unnecessarily delay the case.
“He’s going to make this as complicated as can be,” archdiocese attorney J. Michael Hennigan said of Scholnick.
Hennigan said the archdiocese is willing to make witnesses with relevant information available to Hollister and the nuns, including former Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahony. All sides agree Mahony was involved in obtaining the 1992 agreement between the archdiocese and the institute requiring the conditions for any sale of the convent.
Hennigan said other witnesses can provide the same information the nuns and Hollister hope to obtain from Gomez.
The proposed sale to Perry would be for $14.5 million, consisting of $10 million in cash and an agreement to provide an alternative property for the house of prayer worth $4.5 million, according to the archdiocese. In contrast, Hollister paid only $44,000 and agreed to a contingent promissory note, Hennigan said.