The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was one of several groups that sued the circus' owner Feld Entertainment Inc. in 2000.
A court later found the ASPCA paid a former Ringling employee to bring the lawsuit. Two courts agreed that the former barn helper, Tom rider, was not credible and did not have the right to sue.
Feld Entertainment Inc., based in Vienna, Va., sued the animal rights groups and Rider in 2007, accusing them of conspiring to harm the company's business. The lawsuit claims the groups were working together with the goal of permanently banning Asian elephants from circuses.
The settlement, announced Friday, only covers the ASPCA. Twelve other defendants, including The Humane Society of the United States, the Animal Welfare Institute and The Fund for Animals, are still involved in the lawsuit.
The ASPCA said in a statement that "this litigation has stopped being about the elephants a long time ago" and that officials decided it was in the group's best interest to resolve the lawsuit after more than a decade.
The chairman of Feld Entertainment, Kenneth Feld, said in a statement that the settlement was a vindication for the company and its employees.