Disney asks judge to take legal action against DeSantis appointees

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Disney is asking a Florida judge on Friday to launch a lawsuit against the company’s efforts to neutralize a takeover of the Disney World governing district by Gov. Ron DeSantis and his appointees.

The hour-long hearing in Orlando state court relates to one of two cases between Disney and DeSantis or his appointees in the governing district resulting from the takeover, which was retaliation for the opposition corporate publicity to the so-called Don’t Say Gay legislation championed by DeSantis and Republican state lawmakers.

Disney and DeSantis engaged in a year-long feud that the governor touted during his run for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, often accusing the entertainment giant of being too “woke.” Disney accused the governor of violating his free speech rights.

Disney argues before Circuit Judge Margaret Schreiber that any ruling in state court would be moot since the Republican-controlled legislature has already passed legislation nullifying the deals. If the judge decides not to dismiss the state case, the entertainment giant is asking that the case in state court be stayed until a federal lawsuit in Tallahassee is resolved as they cover the same land and that the lawsuit was filed first.

In that case, Disney sued DeSantis and his appointees at the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District in an effort to stop the takeover, claiming the governor was violating the company’s free speech and “weaponizing the power of government.” to punish private companies”.

The DeSantis appointees to the district board are asking that their case not be dismissed, telling the judge that it is not moot and that it would be inappropriate to stay it.

“Disney’s motion is classic Imagineering, inviting the court to pretend that reality is whatever Disney imagines,” attorneys for the District of Supervision’s Board of Directors said in a court filing.

The fight between DeSantis and Disney began last year after the company, facing significant internal and external pressure, publicly opposed a state law banning classroom lessons on sexual orientation. and gender identity in the early years, a policy critics call “Don’t Say Gay”.

As punishment, DeSantis took control of the district through legislation passed by Florida lawmakers and appointed a new board of supervisors to oversee municipal departments of theme parks and sprawling hotels. But before the new board arrived, the company made deals with former board members who were Disney supporters that stripped the new supervisors of their authority over design and construction.

In response, lawmakers in DeSantis and Florida passed legislation that repealed those agreements.

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Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at @MikeSchneiderAP

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