Days of '47 lawsuit takes aim at fired ex-rodeo chairman

Published: Sunday, Feb. 19 2012 10:56 p.m. MST

The non-profit group that runs Salt Lake's annual Days of '47 celebration has filed a lawsuit against former rodeo chairman Brad Harmon.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — The non-profit group that runs Salt Lake's annual Days of '47 celebration has filed a lawsuit against its former rodeo chairman, accusing him of trying to take over the Pioneer Day event.

Brad Harmon, who served as chairman of the rodeo for Days of '47 Inc. since 1997, has set up a similarly named organization, Days of '47 Rodeo Inc, and taken money, equipment, contacts, trademarks and sponsors, that rightfully belong to the original group, the suit alleges.

The non-profit filing suit against Harmon has run Salt Lake City's various Pioneer Day events, including the parade, rodeo and pageants since 1943.

Days of '47 Inc. fired Harmon from his position Feb. 3, 2012, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City Friday. He had been serving as an executive of Days of '47 Inc. and as its rodeo chairman since the 1997 death of his father, Floyd "Flip" Harmon. Flip Harmon served as acting president of the Days of '47 for several years and was chairman of the rodeo committee.

Brad Harmon could not be reached for comment.

According to the lawsuit, in 2002 Harmon set up the non-profit Days of '47 Rodeo, which is referred to in the court document as Rodeo Inc. Using that corporation, Harmon and others named in the suit have allegedly set up contracts not authorized by Days of '47 Inc., deposited sponsor money into Rodeo Inc. bank accounts, and filed to register "Days of '47 Rodeo" as a federal trademark. 

Days of '47 Inc. had a state trademark, and has used the name since it began running the events in 1943, the suit says.

Among other allegations, the lawsuit accuses Rodeo Inc. of stealing or arranging the theft of Days of '47 rodeo equipment.

The suit demands that Rodeo Inc. cease using its logo and give control of the "Days of '47 Rodeo" website to the original organization.  

For years, money from the profit-making rodeo portion of Days of '47 Inc. helped pay for its other Pioneer Day events, but began “generating significant losses,” once Brad Harmon became chairman, the suit alleges.

In addition to Brad Harmon, the lawsuit names Rodeo Inc. directors Lee Harmon and Joe Venus, and also names up to 10 other unidentified "John Doe" agents of Rodeo Inc.

The lawsuit asks for unspecified damages and attorney fees as well as an injunction against Harmon's company.

E-mail: lbrubaker@desnews.com

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