SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The Great Bull Run and its bull supplier agreed to stop holding imitation stampedes in California.
The Animal League Defense Fund (ALDF), People for the Ethical Treat of Animals (PETA), Great Bull Run LLC and Lone Star Rodeo LLC on Monday signed a proposed consent decree to settle the matter outside of court .
U.S. District Judge Maria-Elena James on Tuesday approved the settlement to the animal rights groups' March 2014 lawsuit . The groups claimed the bull runs violated California's Unfair Competition Law.
Matthew Liebman with ADLF applauded the settlement.
The bulls "will never again have to endure a 35-hour, 2,300-mile trek across the country, from Kentucky to California, to be subjected to fear and stress for the fleeting gratification of GBR's [Great Bull Run] human participants," Liebman told Courthouse News.
Liebman said that the settlement does not prevent ALDF or PETA from challenging bull run events in other states.
"We hope this lawsuit sends the message to anyone else considering harming animals for sport that Californians wont' tolerate this kind of cruelty," he added.
Great Bull Run's chief operating officer Robert Dickens said he too was pleased with the settlement.
He told Courthouse News that the animal rights groups failed to present any evidence of animal cruelty by Great Bull Run or Lone Star Rodeo.
"However, PETA and ALDF didn't intend to win the suit. They simply wanted to waste our time and money in Federal Court - a game we were unwilling to play," Dickens said.
Before the settlement was reached, Dickens said, the companies agreed to hold only one event a year "so that it becomes more of a destination event instead of a traveling series, much like Burning Man."
This year's event will take place in Chicago on July 18.
"As such, it made little sense to continue to spend our money fighting a lawsuit to hold an event in California," Dickens said.
Great Bull Run stages events in which up to three dozen bulls charge toward as many as 1,000 runners along a narrow, quarter-mile track. It gets its bulls from Lone Star Rodeo, which transports them from its ranch in Kentucky.
The event mimics the famous running of the bulls during the Festival de San Fermín in Pamplona, Spain.
Though the U.S. events do not include bullfighting or slaughter in the ring, bloodless bullfighting is illegal in California, as is antagonizing a bull or forcing a bull to antagonize another bull.
Both animals and people are in danger of getting seriously hurt at the events, according to the groups' original complaint. Horseback riders scare the bulls with whips to make them run the course, where they risk getting gored by another bull's horns during the stampede and slipping and breaking their legs. Several runners have been trampled, knocked unconscious, and suffered broken bones, gashes and internal bleeding, the groups claimed.
Great Bull Run defended the events, claiming that the bulls are trained to run the course without hurting each other or the runners, and that the bulls are not abused to force them to run.
The sought dismissal for failure to allege actual injury, but U.S. District Judge Maria-Elena Judge James in June 2014 allowed the groups' claims to advance.
When the complaint was filed, Great Bull Run had already held four events and planned on nine more.
The only event in California took place in July 2014 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds.
Under the proposed consent decree, Great Bull Run and Lone Star agreed to "permanently" stop holding events in California.
Though the defendants agreed to the terms, they staunchly "deny the allegations of the complaint and do not admit any liability arising out of the occurrences alleged in the complaint," the agreement states.
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