An oversight district’s lawsuit against Walt Disney Co. (DIS.N) was dismissed by a Florida judge on Friday, which might make it more difficult for the entertainment giant to file its own lawsuit against Governor Ron DeSantis as part of a year-long dispute.
The decision permits the oversight district to proceed with its legal action to invalidate “backroom deals” in Disney’s favour that were made with a previous district board earlier this year. The district has claimed that annulling such agreements would all but end Disney’s federal lawsuit against DeSantis.
A representative for Disney claimed that the verdict “has no bearing” on the federal action that aims to “vindicate Disney’s constitutional rights.”
The spokeswoman wrote in an email, “We are fully confident Disney will prevail in both the federal and state cases,”
The oversight district’s spokeswoman declined to respond.
After Disney challenged a Florida legislation prohibiting discussion of s*xuality and gender identity with younger children in the school, the conflict broke out last year. DeSantis, a Republican candidate for president, has often criticized “woke Disney” in public statements.
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DeSantis persuaded senators to approve legislation that changed the district’s name to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and gave the governor control over the board rather than Disney.
On the eve of the Reedy Creek Improvement District coming under DeSantis’ authority, lawmakers also retroactively nullified agreements that Disney had made with the previous board of what was then the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
Disney sued the governor in federal court in April, alleging that DeSantis “weaponized” state government against the business in response to Disney’s criticism of the law requiring classroom gender discussions.
Disney urged the federal court to stop the state from implementing the laws against the business and to reinstate the advantageous development agreements Disney had made with the board of the previous district.