Disney Call to Narrow DeSantis Lawsuit Denied

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A judge denied a call from Disney attorneys to narrow the federal lawsuit the company has filed against Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis and the board for the district encompassing the Walt Disney World Resort, leaving just a complaint on alleged violations of free speech.

Disney late last week tried to withdraw the first four claims it had filed against the Republican governor and presidential candidate, leaving only the fifth claim, which alleges that DeSantis and state officials had infringed on its free speech rights by retaliating against comments the company had made in 2022 against the state’s Parental Rights in Education law, reports The Washington Examiner.

Disney argued in its filing that the other claims should be withdrawn without prejudice, as “the validity of Disney’s contract-based claims is being actively litigated in the pending state court action.”

The motion was rejected on procedural grounds, with Judge Allen Winsor telling Disney’s lawyers in a filing late Friday that they may refile it after they confer with the defendants in the case and otherwise comply with local rules.

The motion on the lawsuit comes after Disney has called to dismiss a state lawsuit that was filed by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, which directly deals with the legality of agreements questioned in the first four claims in the federal lawsuit. The state lawsuit request was also denied.

In the federal lawsuit, filed by Disney against DeSantis, acting Secretary of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Meredith Ivey, and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board in April in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, the company claims that there has been a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain state officials.”

The weaponization claims come from DeSantis signing legislation to restructure the district that encompasses the Walt Disney World Resort, allowing it more state oversight of the business.

DeSantis and others involved have called for having the lawsuit dismissed, while a counter-lawsuit filed by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board continues to proceed in state court.

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