James Arthur Ray, a self-help author who is imprisoned for the deaths of three people following a sweat lodge ceremony, has settled civil lawsuits with the victims’ families for more than $3 million. Ray began serving a two-year sentence in November on three negligent homicide convictions. The Associated Press discovered the terms of the settlements reached last year in the civil cases and brought them to the public’s attention. The information was in court documents filed as exhibits in Ray’s criminal case. In addition to the deaths, 18 other persons were hospitalized.
The families of Kirby Brown, James Shore and Liz Neuman filed suit against Ray after the October 2009 ceremony near Sedona. The lawsuits accused Ray and his company of negligence, fraud and wrongful death. The others who were injured in the ceremony also were Plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Under the settlement terms, Shore’s family, including his mother, wife and three children, received $1.38 million, and Neuman’s family received more than $1 million. The settlement money was paid by Ray’s insurers. The other cases against Ray are still pending.
Two of the victims died of heatstroke. The third victim’s organs shut down due to hypothermia and prolonged sweat lodge exposure. The victims’ families also settled a civil lawsuit against the owners of the retreat center that Ray rented for his five-day so-called “Spiritual Warrior” event. The Plaintiffs alleged in the lawsuits that the conduct of Michael and Amayra Hamilton, the owners, led to the deaths of the three men and caused the others’ injuries. The terms of that settlement were confidential.
An interesting note about Ray. He owned a 7,000 square-foot house in Beverly Hills that he bought for $4 million in 2009. The so-called ceremony that caused the deaths and injuries was weird to the extreme. The people who attended were required to go without food or water for three days out in the desert, before coming into the sweat lodge.
Source: USA Today
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