Disney's lawsuit accusing Ron DeSantis of retaliation tossed

MONEY & BUSINESS: Disney’s lawsuit accusing Ron DeSantis of retaliation tossed



A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed Walt Disney’s lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and members of a state board for allegedly retaliating after the company criticized state limits on classroom discussion of sexuality.

DeSantis and other defendants had urged U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor in Tallahassee, Florida, to dismiss the case because Disney could not sue them over constitutionally enacted state laws. Winsor was nominated by then-President Donald Trump in 2019 to fill a vacancy.

“Disney lacks standing to sue the Governor or the Secretary,” the judge said in his ruling, according to a court filing. The company’s claims against the Central Florida Tourism Oversight district board also fail because “when a statute is facially constitutional, a plaintiff cannot bring a free-speech challenge by claiming that the lawmakers who passed it acted with a constitutionally impermissible purpose.”

DeSantis’s office and the Florida oversight board did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A Disney spokesperson said: “This is an important case with serious implications for the rule of law, and it will not end here.

Ron DeSantis and other defendants had urged the judge to dismiss the case because Disney could not sue them over constitutionally enacted state laws. AP

“If left unchallenged, this would set a dangerous precedent and give license to states to weaponize their official powers to punish the expression of political viewpoints they disagree with. We are determined to press forward with our case.”

DeSantis and other defendants had urged US District Judge Allen Winsor in Tallahassee, Fla., to dismiss the case because Disney could not sue them over constitutionally enacted state laws.

The dispute began after Disney last year criticized the classroom discussion ban, dubbed the “Don’t say gay” law by opponents.

DeSantis began repeatedly attacking what he termed “woke Disney” in public appearances as he geared up for his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, an effort he abandoned earlier this month.

“This is an important case with serious implications for the rule of law, and it will not end here,” a Disney spokesperson said. AP

State lawmakers stripped Disney of its control over the special development district that since 1967 had given the company virtual autonomy around its theme parks, including the Walt Disney World Resort.

The newly formed, DeSantis-appointed district, known as the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board, then voided contracts that Disney pushed through just before the prior board was replaced.

Disney responded by suing the governor and board members for allegedly punishing the company for its political comments.

State lawmakers stripped Disney of its control over the special development district that since 1967 had given the company virtual autonomy around its theme parks, including the Walt Disney World Resort. Above, CEO Bob Iger. Getty Images

The new board shot back by asking a state court judge to declare prior agreements, which were favorable to Disney and limited board action for decades, improper and void.

That case is still pending.

Disney allegedly gave the previous board and its employees millions of dollars’ worth of tickets, discounted hotel stays, and other benefits that were “akin to bribes of public officials,” according to a report issued by the new board in early December.



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