McKool Smith Hennigan, lead counsel to The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles and the California Institute of the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, has issued the following Fact Sheet concerning Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles et al. v. Dana Hollister, case number BC585604, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.
- In 2015, the Archbishop of Los Angeles 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 property owned by the IHM Institute. Without proper approval, knowing that approval had been denied, and based upon a known-to-be invalid deed, developer Dana Hollister claimed title to, and took possession of, a former convent in Los Feliz known as the Waverly property. For this property worth up to $15 million, Hollister paid IHM just $44,000 and a non-recourse promissory note that did not guarantee the Sisters would ever receive any additional payment. Hollister “closed” the deal without escrow, title insurance or inspections. She changed the locks and posted guards.
- The main concern of the Archbishop is and has always been the care and well-being of all of the IHM Sisters. The Waverly property had been vacant since 2011 because it became too costly for the retired Sisters to maintain and because it no longer accommodated their physical needs. A majority of the IHM Sisters agreed to have the Archbishop sell their former convent on their behalf in 2014 with all proceeds going to the Institute for the care of the Sisters. Regardless of any sale, the Archbishop has pledged to take care of all of the IHM Sisters for the rest of their lives.
- Hollister’s actions left the IHM Sisters with almost nothing for their property. She candidly admitted that she closed the transaction to prevent a sale of the property approved by the Archbishop to The Bird Nest, a company owned by 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.
- In March 2016 and April 2017 Judge Bowick ruled that the Hollister sale was invalid and that Hollister has no right, title or valid interest in the property, that the IHM Institute is the rightful owner of the property, that only the Archbishop had authority to sell it, and that any sale had to be approved by the Holy See. In 2016, another judge had ordered Hollister off the property for these same reasons.
- However, Hollister continued to challenge the rulings 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 the IHM. As determined in the trial court, Hollister was at all times aware that Sisters Callanan and Holzman had no authority to transfer title to the Waverly property; nonetheless, Hollister took advantage of these elderly Sisters and, to generate sympathy for her knowingly false position, repeatedly brought them to court appearances despite their advanced age and ill health.
- Hollister’s deed remains of record, and she continues to refuse to release it.
- The litigation resulted in a jury trial before Judge Stephanie Bowick in California Superior Court. On November 17, 2017, a Los Angeles jury awarded the Archdiocese and IHM Institute $3.47 million, the full amount of damages they sought for the legal fees they were force to incur when Hollister improperly and illegally recorded a deed transferring ownership of the former IHM convent.
- The Court and Jury also awarded Katy Perry’s company, The Bird Nest, LLC, their legal fees in the amount of $1.91 million.
- The jury also found that Hollister acted with malice, oppression or fraud with respect to the IHM Institute, the Archdiocese and Bird Nest, and, on December 4, 2017, the jury reconvened to determine punitive damages and awarded $6.67 million to the IHM Institute and Archdiocese and $3.33 million to Bird Nest. Thus, the total award to the IHM Institute and the Archdiocese was $10.147 million, and the total award to Bird Nest was $5.244 million.
- The Vatican had repeatedly issued multiple rulings confirming the Archbishop’s control of the IHM and its properties (including the Waverly property). The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (the Vatican’s highest ecclesiastical court) issued a final ruling on December 21, 2017 that the Archbishop of Los Angeles has sole authority of the IHM Institute.
- In an apparent effort to avoid payment of the judgments, the majority of which is payment to (or for the benefit of) the IHM, on March 6, 2018, Hollister filed for bankruptcy. Her latest bankruptcy hearing was held on March 9, 2018.
- Sister Catherine Rose and Sister Rita Callanan, two of the five IHM Sisters, and the only Sisters supporting Dana Hollister, accompanied Dana Hollister to her bankruptcy hearing last Friday. Sadly, Sister Catherine Rose had a sudden and unexpected episode in the courtroom and passed away that afternoon. Along with the IMH Sisters, her loved ones, and the Archbishop, we mourn her loss.
For more information on this matter and to view a video of the other three IHM Sisters sharing their story, visit https://angelusnews.com/content/archbishop-offers-condolences-on-death-of-nun-in-convent-dispute.