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“Self Help” Author Settles Three Wrongful Death Suits

When one takes the advice of another who claims to be offering advice, or help, the expected outcome is a positive one, not a tragedy. However, this the outcome was not a positive one for three individuals who participated in one of James Arthur Ray’s sweat lodges in 2009. For those three individuals, what was supposed to be a spiritual retreat turned into tragedy, and lead to their deaths.

Self Help author James Arthur Ray has settled lawsuits brought by three families who brought the suits on behalf of the love ones they lost as a result of one of Ray’s “Spiritual Warrior” ceremonies. According to USA Today the terms of the settlements were disclosed as exhibits during Ray’s criminal trial. Ray was tried and convicted on three counts of negligent homicide as a result of the deaths. The suits brought by the families of the three victims included allegations of negligence, fraud, and wrongful death.

Kirby Brown, James Shore and Liz Neuman all died while attending one of Ray’s Spiritual Warrior retreats in October of 2009. Ray, who is a self help author, held several of these ceremonies, or sweat lodges in the past.The lawsuit filed by the families of Brown, Shore, and Neuman alleged that Ray and his company were liable for wrongful death, fraud, and negligence. Other individuals who sustained personal injuries in the 2009 ceremony also filed suit against Ray and his company.

Ray settled the suits brought by these three families for around 3 million dollars, with each family receiving between 800,000 dollars to 1.3 million dollars each. The settlement funds did not come directly from Ray, but came from Ray’s insurers. According to USA Today, Brad Jardine, the attorney who represented Ray in the civil cases, said he could only assume that Ray “felt very deeply that everything possible should be done for those families.” Also according to Ray’s attorneys, despite Ray’s decision to settle these cases, the settlements include no admission of guilt on Ray’s part.

There are other cases pending against Ray as well as the retreat center that Ray rented for his five-day “Spiritual Warrior” event. Other civil cases pending against Ray include a wrongful-death suit filed by a woman who committed suicide at one of Ray’s events. The families of Brown, Shore and Neuman also brought cases against Michael and Amayra Hamilton, the owners of Angel Valley Retreat Center, which is the retreat center where Ray held his ceremonial events. These cases have been settled as well. In the cases against the Hamiltons, the plaintiffs alleged that the conduct of Michael and Amayra Hamilton led to the deaths of Brown, Shore and Neuman, and also led to the injuries of others. The terms of that settlement were confidential, and like the settlement with Ray, it included no admission of liability by the Hamiltons.