Disney Files Countersuit In State Court Against Ron DeSantis-Appointed Special District Board; Company Seeks Damages And Claims Retaliation


The Walt Disney Co. filed a counterclaim in opposition to the Ron DeSantis-appointed board of a particular district that covers its Florida theme parks, searching for damages and the enforcement of a set of growth contracts.

The corporate’s lawsuit, filed in Florida state court docket in Orange County, FL, was a response to litigation filed by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board, which was appointed by DeSantis in late February after the state moved to strip Disney of its 55 years of management over the particular district.

Learn the Disney Reedy Creek counterclaim.

Within the counterclaim, the corporate’s authorized group, led by Dan Petrocelli, wrote that Disney is searching for unspecified damages and needs a court docket order that the board adjust to a growth contracts between the particular district and Walt Disney World.

In February, the Disney-controlled board of the particular district authorized the event contracts, making certain that the corporate’s Florida theme parks and resorts nonetheless maintained a level of autonomy even after state legislation was modified later within the month. That invoice allowed DeSantis to nominate his personal members to the board of the district, which was renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board.

“As a direct and proximate result of the District’s anticipatory repudiations and, in the alternative, material failure to perform its duties under both contracts, Disney has suffered and will continue to suffer damages, including consequential damages,” Disney attorneys wrote.

In their very own state court docket lawsuit, the DeSantis-controlled board claimed that the Disney-Reedy Creek contracts had been a “backroom deal” supposed to “tie the hands of the new, independent board.” DeSantis additionally led a state legislative effort to invalidate these contracts.

Disney, nevertheless, insisted that the event contracts had been authorized with correct public discover and different procedures adopted, with members of the press current for the particular district board conferences. The district’s earlier title was the Reedy Creek Enchancment District.

In April, Disney filed a federal lawsuit in opposition to DeSantis and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board, claiming that the governor violated its First Modification and different constitutional rights. Disney accused the governor of retaliation after the corporate publicly opposed a parental rights invoice, which detractors dub the “don’t say gay” legislation, final 12 months.

In its state countersuit, Disney additionally raised related claims, citing the free speech clause of the Florida structure.

“The district’s retaliatory interference with the contracts, via the legislative declaration and its predicates, has chilled and continues to chill Disney’s protected speech,” Disney’s authorized group wrote.

“This unconstitutional chilling effect is particularly offensive here due to the express retaliatory and punitive intent that has motivated the District’s and the State Legislature’s actions, at the Governor’s directive,” the corporate’s authorized group added.

The choose within the case, Margaret H Schreiber, final month declined to toss out the DeSantis-appointed board’s lawsuit in opposition to Disney.

The board earlier this week filed a movement for abstract judgment, once more asserting that the event contracts had been authorized with a “host of procedural and substantive flaws.” Amongst different issues, the particular district board claimed that the contracts had been an illegal delegation of governmental authority to a personal entity, claiming that the contracts “do not merely freeze in place existing land development regulations applicable to Disney’s property. Instead, they substitute Disney for the District as the final authority on all land use decisions for all landowners within the District (including the District itself)—for the next 30 years.”

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