By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County and the state of California will pay hundreds of thousands to settle a lawsuit with a Sun Valley church that repeatedly defied health restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SUN VALLEY, CA – SEPTEMBER 04: Grace Community Church Grace Community Church on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020 in Sun Valley, CA. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Los Angeles County has already spent more than $950,000 in attorney’s fees and other costs in the legal battle against Grace Community Church, according to a summary provided to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. The board voted Tuesday to pay its half of a $800,000 settlement reached with the Sun Valley church, with the other half to be paid by the state.

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The county’s $400,000 payment will come out of its public health budget.

County health officials had cited the church repeatedly, then went to court to get an injunction that would require the church to comply with health regulations. The church fought back, claiming the COVID safety regulations amounted to constitutional violations of religious freedom in a lawsuit.

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The church held services even after outbreaks were reported among its congregation.

But even though a state Supreme Court judge issued the preliminary injunction, the church ignored it and continued to hold indoor services. LA County attorneys then sought a contempt ruling against Grace Community Church, which sought to have the injunction lifted and the contempt request dismissed. The church cited two Supreme Court decisions that struck down an indoor worship ban while allowing caps on attendance and a ban on singing in their request.

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