LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Organizers of a Spanish-style bull run agreed on Tuesday to stop holding their event in California to settle a lawsuit filed against them by two animal rights groups that claimed the animals are terrified and harassed.
The Great Bull Run company's events have seen participants in shorts and red scarves scampering alongside the horned animals weighing about 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms) in fenced tracks set up at venues in metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Houston and the Twin Cities in Minnesota.
The company's sole California event was held last year in Pleasanton at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, and one participant was hospitalized after he was trampled by a bull.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Animal Legal Defense Fund sued last year in federal court to bar the event from California. Their lawsuit that argued it violated state laws that prohibit any so-called "bloodless bullfight contest" and bar needless suffering of animals.
The settlement of the lawsuit filed in court on Tuesday represents a victory for animal rights activists in barring the event from being held in California, the U.S. state with a climate closest to that of Pamplona, Spain, where the running of the bulls originates.
"The Great Bull Run is a disgrace wherever it occurs. But that will never again be in the state of California," Animal Legal Defense Fund executive director Stephen Wells said in a statement.
"We will continue to push for this ridiculous spectacle to be shut down across the country," he said.
The event, which has been held nine times since it began in the United States in 2013, will become an annual phenomenon and this year will be held in Chicago, Rob Dickens, chief operating officer of The Great Bull Run, said in an email.
Dickens said the animal rights groups that sued his company did not demonstrate in court the firm was abusing bulls.
"They simply wanted to waste our time and money in federal court, a game we were unwilling to play," he said.
The bulls for the event are shipped around the country in a double-decker truck and come from a rodeo company in Kentucky. The settlement prevents the company from sending them to California for any running of the bulls event.
Dickens said his company plans to release details on Wednesday about its 2015 Chicago event.
Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh