On Friday, a state judge rejected Disney’s attempt to dismiss a case that sought to invalidate the entertainment giant’s legal maneuver to regain control of its sizable central Florida theme park.
The legal dispute is centred on a deal that the California-based entertainment behemoth reached covertly in February with a prior board in charge of Disney’s amusement park in central Florida. After the Florida Legislature sought to deprive Disney of its autonomy, that arrangement essentially restored control to Disney for decades.
Disney is being sued by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, which claims that the company’s February agreement granting it back authority “reek[s] of a backroom deal” and is therefore void.
With Judge Margaret Schreiber’s decision, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, supported by Governor Ron DeSantis and who sued Disney in May, has won.
It’s important to note that the state and federal lawsuits filed by Disney in April are separate. Disney’s federal lawsuit claims that DeSantis and his chosen board violated their First Amendment rights and punished them for opposing Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, also called the “Don’t Say, Gay” law. Current law forbids educators from giving lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation to young pupils.
“We are fully confident Disney will prevail in federal and state cases,” Disney said following the judgement. “Today’s decision has no bearing on our lawsuit in federal court to vindicate Disney’s constitutional rights,” the company added. A request for a comment from an official in the governor’s office has yet to be responded to.
Disney, one of Florida’s major employers with over 70,000 employees, and DeSantis have been at odds for over a year. Since DeSantis is running for president and brings up his battle with Disney while campaigning, the conflict has gained additional significance.
The governor’s Republican competitors, including former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former President Donald Trump, have criticized DeSantis over the feud, including Democrats and the White House. Source