A Los Angeles jury has awarded $US5 million ($AU6.6 million) to pop singer Katy Perry and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, after they found a restaurateur intentionally interfered with the singer’s attempts to buy a hilltop property that was once a convent.
The jury found that Dana Hollister should pay the Archdiocese $US3.47 million ($AU4.6 million) and Perry $US1.57 million ($AU2.1 million) for interference with contractual relations and other misdeeds.
The 33-year-old pop star has sought to buy the three-hectare property and its Roman-villa style buildings in the city’s Los Feliz neighbourhood for $US14.5 million ($A19.2 million), and to relocate an adjoining house of prayer used by priests. Her bid has the approval of Los Angeles’ archbishop.
But Ms Hollister stepped in and attempted to buy the property from two nuns who had lived there.
The Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary have owned the property for more than four decades, but they haven’t lived in the convent for several years.
Only five sisters, who are in their 70s and 80s, remain, and their order has bickered with the archbishop for years on various issues. They objected to the sale to Perry.
The nuns watched the “Roar” singer’s music videos and met with her, but that only hardened their opposition to her turning their convent into her home.
A judge voided the sale to Ms Hollister earlier this year, saying the Archdiocese had the right to sell the property, not the nuns.
The jury found that Ms Hollister’s actions led to Perry and the Archdiocese having to pay exorbitant lawyer fees and other costs, which Ms Hollister should get the bill for.
Her lawyer Michael Geibelson said in court that she thought she had a correct and legal contract, and intended no harm.
“I don’t think Dana Hollister did anything wrong as to either of these parties,” Mr Geibelson said during the trial.
Perry and the archdiocese are still working out the terms of the sale. The archdiocese needs permission from the Vatican to finalise it.
The trial moves to a second phase in December, when the jury will decide if Ms Hollister should pay punitive damages.