Judge In Disney v. DeSantis Lawsuit Steps Down Citing Conflict of Interest

Deadline has reported that the federal judge who was set to preside over the lawsuit filed by Disney against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has recused himself.

What’s Happening:

  • Citing a conflict of interest, the federal judge who was set to preside over the lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has reportedly recused himself.
  • An order on Friday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Fitzpatrick has claimed that the judge is related “in the third degree” to someone employed by one of the parties in the lawsuit, and thus the reason for stepping down.
  • The order also states that the case will be assigned to a different judge.
  • Several days ago, after the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District voted to void Disney’s deal with the former board of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, Disney made it known that they filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.
  • As part of their justification for the lawsuit, Disney said that “a targeted campaign of government retaliation—orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech—now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights.”
  • They continue, “this government action was patently retaliatory, patently anti-business, and patently unconstitutional. But the Governor and his allies have made clear they do not care and will not stop.”
  • Disney went through plenty of other routes prior to filing a lawsuit to try and come to a solution, but “regretfully” decided to go ahead with the filing.
  • The lawsuit seeks to “protect its cast members, guests, and local development partners from a relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain State officials.”
  • In the lawsuit, Disney goes on to provide examples of just how instrumental they have been to Florida’s economy over the last 50 years.
  • The lawsuit continues to explain how the deal made with the former Reedy Creek board was conducted in a proper and legal manner.
  • Disney is seeking a declaration that DeSantis’ actions are “unlawful and unenforceable” and that their contract(s) with the former board remain intact.

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Tony Betti
Originally from California where he studied a dying artform (hand-drawn animation), Tony has spent most of his adult life in the theme parks of Orlando. When he’s not writing for LP, he’s usually watching and studying something animated or arguing about “the good ole’ days” at the parks.