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A Los Angeles judge has ruled in favor of Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom following a multiyear legal battle with disabled veteran Carl Westcott over the purchase of a Montecito mansion.
Perry and Bloom initially signed a contract with Westcott, who is the 83-year-old founder of 1-800-Flowers, in 2020 to buy the home from him for $15 million, just a few months after Westcott himself had bought the home for $11.25 million.
A few days later, Westcott had a change of heart and claimed he had been taking painkillers after a major surgery, which had impaired his mental faculties. Westcott has Huntington’s Disease, a rare neurological condition, and medical records shown at trial suggested he was showing early signs of dementia.
The tentative verdict that came down from Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joseph Lipner on Tuesday found that Westcott presented “no credible evidence” that he lacked the mental capacity to sign the deal with Perry and Bloom in 2020. Lipner’s verdict is expected to become permanent after a 10-day waiting period.
“The contract that Westcott negotiated and signed yielded Westcott a $3.75 million gross profit,” Lipner said in his decision. “Moreover, Westcott entered into other contracts shortly before and shortly after the contract at issue here. Westcott has not attempted to rescind any of these other contracts for lack of capacity.”
In addition to proceeding with the sale, Perry is seeking $1.4 million in damages to cover what she could have earned from renting out the house if the sale had moved forward in 2020. A February hearing will determine if further damages are appropriate.
Perry’s attorney Eric Rowen told Rolling Stone, “This proposed decision is crystal clear — the judge has concluded that Mr. Westcott was in full possession of his faculties when he engaged in complex negotiations with multiple parties to finalize the lucrative sale of the property, which ultimately brought him a substantial profit.
“The evidence overwhelmingly shows that Mr. Westcott breached the contract simply because he changed his mind,” Rowen added. “We eagerly anticipate resolving this matter during the scheduled damage trial phase set for February 13 and 14, if not sooner.”
Chart Westcott, one of Mr. Westcott’s children, said that Perry’s bid for damages from rental income contradicted previous claims in court filings that she was planning to live in the house.
“Perry has put herself in a box by claiming that she lost years of rental income and is owed damages, which is counter to her sworn statements,” he said in a statement. “We hope Ms. Perry enjoys her pyrrhic victory, as she explains to her fans about [taking homes from the elderly.]”
Perry has built a reputation for fraught encounters with the elderly over real estate transactions. In 2011, the singer tried to purchase a Spanish-Gothic-Tudor estate in Los Feliz that was occupied at the time by a handful of elderly Catholic nuns belonging to the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The sisters did not want to vacate the property, but because Perry was willing to buy the house in cash, Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez insisted the nuns leave.
The parties became engaged in a legal battle for the property; in 2016, a judge ruled in favor of Perry, at which point she took occupancy of the home. The sisters continued to fight for ownership of the property, however, and legal proceedings came to an abrupt end when one of the sisters, 89-year-old Sister Catherine Rose Holzman, collapsed and died while in court for a post-judgment hearing related to the case.
Inspired by Perry’s real estate moves, Chart Westcott and his family are now advocating for legislation to protect the elderly against financial abuse in real estate transactions. The proposed act, called Protecting Elder Realty for Retirement Years Act or the “Katy PERRY Act,” seeks to “address the risks of elder financial abuse, especially as it relates to property and real estate sales and transfers. The Act establishes a 72-hour cool-down period during which either party involved in a contract for conveyance of a personal residence, in which one party is over the age of 75, can rescind the agreement without penalty.”