In a recent development, a judge in Florida has refused to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Governor Ron DeSantis' appointees against Disney. The lawsuit alleges that Disney wrongfully stripped appointees of their powers over design and construction at Disney World when the company made agreements with previous board members who were supporters of the governor. This lawsuit is one of two stemming from the governor's takeover of Disney World's governing district, which was seen as retaliation for the company's public opposition to the "Don't Say Gay" legislation championed by DeSantis and Republican lawmakers.
Disney has also filed a separate lawsuit in federal court in Tallahassee, claiming that DeSantis violated the company's free speech rights. The governor has been vocal about his feud with Disney, often accusing the entertainment giant of being too "woke," while Disney has accused DeSantis of violating its First Amendment rights.
Attorneys for Disney argued that any decision in the state court case would be irrelevant since the Republican-controlled Legislature has already passed a law voiding the agreements made by the company with the previous governing board. Disney requested that the state court case be put on hold until the federal lawsuit in Tallahassee is resolved, as they cover similar grounds and the federal lawsuit was filed first.
The conflict between DeSantis and Disney began after the company publicly opposed a state law banning classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity. As a result, DeSantis took over the district through legislation and appointed a new board of supervisors. However, before the new board came into power, Disney made agreements with the previous oversight board members that stripped the new supervisors of their authority over design and construction. In response, DeSantis and Florida lawmakers passed legislation repealing those agreements.
It is worth noting that Governor DeSantis is not a party in the state court lawsuit. Additionally, Disney recently announced that it has scrapped plans to build a new campus in central Florida and relocate employees from Southern California. The company had intended to build the campus near the Walt Disney World theme park.
This ongoing legal battle between Governor DeSantis and Disney highlights the tensions between political interests and corporate entities. Both sides have asserted violations of their rights, and the outcome of these lawsuits could have significant implications for the relationship between government and private businesses.