Disney is seeking to narrow the scope of its federal lawsuit against Governor Ron DeSantis to focus solely on a free-speech claim. The claim alleges that the Florida governor retaliated against Disney due to its public opposition to a state law prohibiting classroom discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity in early education.
In a recent filing, Disney requested permission from a federal judge to amend their complaint to solely address the First Amendment issue. The company intends to address the legality of agreements it signed with Disney World's governing district separately in a state-court lawsuit. These agreements, initially made with Disney supporters before DeSantis and the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature took over, shifted control of design and construction at the theme-park resort from DeSantis appointees to Disney.
Disney argues that the new powers and composition of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD), led by DeSantis appointees, are being used as a means to punish the company for expressing its political viewpoint. The revised complaint seeks a declaratory judgment to prevent further retaliatory actions from the CFTOD Board, allowing Disney to pursue its future endeavors in Florida without hindrance.
Disney believes that these actions amount to an unconstitutional weaponization of government, and they are determined to protect their rights and obtain relief from the court.
Disney's Request Denied by U.S. District Judge in Florida Lawsuit
U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor has rejected Disney's motion to narrow the scope of the lawsuit filed against them by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The motion was denied due to a procedural rule which required Disney's attorneys to confer with DeSantis' attorneys before making such a request. However, the judge did allow Disney to refile their request after complying with the court rule.
This development highlights the growing intertwining of the two lawsuits, as Disney has also recently filed a counter-claim in the state case, asserting many of the same claims made in the federal case. Disney resorted to this action after their initial request to dismiss the lawsuit was denied by the state court judge.
In response to these limitations, DeSantis and Florida lawmakers passed legislation repealing the previous agreements. This ongoing legal battle continues to unfold as both parties fight for their respective positions.