Disney asks judge to toss DeSantis appointees lawsuit

Orlando, Florida –

Disney on Friday asked a Florida judge to sue the company’s efforts to neutralize the takeover of Disney World premises by Governor Ron DeSantis and his appointees.

The Orlando state court lawsuit was one of two resulting from the acquisition, in retaliation for the company’s public opposition to a so-called “gay ban” promoted by Mr. DeSantis and Republican lawmakers. Disney is fighting DeSantis in one lawsuit, and Disney World’s board of directors appointed by DeSantis in another.

The governor has touted a year-long feud with Disney when running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, and has often accused the entertainment giant of being “too awake.” Disney accused the governor of violating his right to free speech.

Disney lawyers told Circuit Court Judge Margaret Shriver that the Republican-controlled Congress had already revoked the agreement the company made with a former governing board of Disney supporters to authorize design and construction. It argued that any decision in the state court would be invalid because it passed a law to do so. company.

If a judge decides not to dismiss the state lawsuit, the entertainment giant will remain in state court until the Tallahassee federal lawsuit is resolved, as it deals with the same grounds and preceded the Tallahassee federal lawsuit. requested that the lawsuit be put on hold.

In the case, Disney sent DeSantis and his appointees to Central Florida to block the takeover, accusing the governor of violating the company’s free speech and “weaponizing the government’s power to punish private corporations.” appealed to the surveillance district.

“We’re dealing with the same issues in both cases,” Disney attorney Daniel Petrocelli told the judge during the hour-long hearing, which was attended remotely by several Disney executives.

Attorneys for the District Commission asked the Circuit Judge not to dismiss the lawsuit, saying it was not an issue and it was inappropriate to stay it on hold. They also argued that because Disney’s federal lawsuit was not properly served on the defendants, the board’s action in state court preceded it.

Mr. DeSantis is not a party to the state court action.

The judge didn’t say when she would make the decision, but by next Wednesday, both sides will have a written order ready for her, as if she had ruled in their favor. asked a lawyer.

DeSantis and Disney’s feud last year came under considerable pressure from both inside and outside the company, as the company announced a state law banning classroom teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity in the early grades (policy critics called it “Don’t Say Gay”). It began with a public opposition to

As punishment, DeSantis took over the district through a bill passed by the Florida legislature and appointed a new oversight board to oversee the city’s services to the sprawling theme parks and hotels. But before the new board could take office, the company struck a deal with former Disney-backed oversight board members to strip the new supervisors of design and construction authority.

In response, DeSantis and Florida legislators passed legislation repealing these agreements.

Disney announced in May that it was scrapping plans to build a new campus in central Florida and move 2,000 employees from Southern California to work in digital technology, finance and product development. Disney had planned to build a campus about 20 miles (30 kilometers) from the giant theme park, Walt Disney World Resort.

Disney CEO Bob Iger said in an interview with CNBC this week that the company doesn’t want to get into any culture wars.

“Our goal is to continue to tell great stories and have a positive, positive impact on the world,” Iger said.

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