Disney Amends Lawsuit Against Florida Governor to Focus on First Amendment Claim

Disney has recently amended its federal lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, narrowing its focus solely on its First Amendment claim. The entertainment company had initially included other claims related to a dispute over development contracts in the lawsuit, but those claims are now being pursued separately in a state-level lawsuit in Florida. In this article, we will explore the revised complaint, the ongoing legal battle between Disney and DeSantis, and the potential implications for both parties involved.

Disney’s latest amended complaint significantly reduces the size of its federal civil complaint, shrinking it from 84 to 48 pages. The revision eliminates four claims that the company had previously presented in the case, choosing to concentrate solely on its First Amendment claim alleging political retaliation by Governor DeSantis. This strategic decision demonstrates Disney’s commitment to vigorously defend its contracts, as they will determine the company’s ability to invest billions of dollars and create thousands of new jobs in Florida.

The legal wrangling between Disney and DeSantis can be traced back to last year when Disney publicly criticized a controversial classroom bill, commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. This bill restricts discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms, sparking condemnation from Disney. In response, DeSantis and his allies launched a series of attacks on the entertainment company, accusing it of “sexualizing children” and using the politically charged term “woke.”

It is worth noting that Governor DeSantis has embraced culture-war battles both during his tenure as governor and on the campaign trail, positioning himself as a prominent figure in the Republican party’s 2024 presidential nomination race. By targeting Disney and using inflammatory language, DeSantis seeks to solidify his support base and appeal to conservative voters who share his views on social issues. However, Disney CEO Bob Iger has vehemently rejected DeSantis’ accusations, dismissing them as “preposterous and inaccurate.”

Amidst these heated exchanges, Governor DeSantis and his allies turned their attention to the special tax district that had allowed Disney to exert self-governance over its Orlando-area theme parks for decades. DeSantis signed measures changing the district’s name and replacing its board of supervisors with his own appointees. In response, Disney took measures to protect its future investments in Florida by crafting development contracts.

However, the newly appointed board, under DeSantis’ influence, voted to nullify the development contracts. This prompted Disney to file a federal lawsuit against the board, arguing that their actions violated the company’s rights. The board retaliated by countersuing in a state court in Orange County, leading to a complex legal battle playing out on two fronts.

Disney’s decision to amend its federal complaint has drawn a response from the board, with a spokesperson expressing satisfaction that Disney has scaled back its legal claims against the district in the federal case. The board maintains that these matters should be resolved in state court, aligning with Disney’s latest legal move. This concurrence between the two parties may help expedite the judicial process and bring about a resolution for the people of Florida.

The amended lawsuit by Disney narrows the focus of the case to the company’s First Amendment claim, highlighting their allegation of political retaliation by Governor Ron DeSantis. The ongoing legal battle between Disney and DeSantis reveals the clash between the entertainment industry and conservative politics, with implications for both parties involved. As this complex legal saga continues, the outcome and its impact on Disney’s future investments in Florida remain uncertain.


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