A judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit that was at the center of a four-year battle between rival Hmong organizations in Fresno competing to host the annual Hmong International New Year celebration.
Fresno County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hamilton ruled to dismiss the lawsuit filed in late 2011 by the United Hmong Council against the Hmong International New Year Foundation Inc. In his ruling, Hamilton wrote that the council had engaged in a pattern of misleading actions to try to keep from paying attorney costs to the foundation, as ordered by the court. Because of its willful disregard for the court order, the judge said he had no other course than to dismiss the case.
The Hmong New Year groups have had a history of strained relations dating to the mid-1990s. The latest disagreement started in 2010 when members of the council made public claims that the nonprofit foundation improperly spent money meant for charity and violated a 1999 contract that would allow council members to run the event.
100,000 people attend the Hmong International New Year
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The foundation, created to preserve Hmong culture and traditions, has hosted the new year at the Fresno Fairgrounds since 1999. The week-long event attracts more than 100,000 people from around the world for traditional ball tossing games, food, beauty pageants and dance competitions. Organizers have denied the council’s claims.
The dispute led the council to operate its own Hmong New Year celebration in 2010 at the Fresno Regional Sports Complex on Jensen Avenue in southwest Fresno. The group skipped 2012 when efforts to find a new location fell through and as the lawsuit made its way through court.
The Hmong New Year has since been held every year at Calwa Park.