Disney has asked a judge to dismiss or stay the lawsuit filed by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board at the beginning of the month, according to Deadline.
- Earlier this month, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board filed a countersuit against Disney after the company filed a suit of their own against the state just a few days prior.
- Disney is now asking a Florida judge to dismiss the suit, calling it “moot” and claiming that state law requires that the state court sideline the litigation until the company’s own federal case against Ron DeSantis is resolved.
- Disney’s legal team saif the following in its brief, which was filed today:
- “Disney’s earlier-filed and earlier-served federal action is pending between substantially the same parties, and it involves substantially overlapping issues. In these circumstances, controlling precedents provide that the court lacks discretion to proceed with this case. Disney regrets that it is compelled to litigate these issues anywhere, but the federal action is the proper vehicle for first hearing the parties’ dispute.”
- Disney’s motion also explains that “any order this Court could issue—in either party’s favor—legally irrelevant.”
- “If the Court rejects the board’s claims on their merits and agrees with Disney that the contracts complied with any procedural and substantive requirements of state law, the board would still be prohibited from complying with them under the new state statute,” according to the company in its motion. “For the same reason, even if the Court found merit in the board’s objections to the contracts, any order to that effect would be pointless because the contracts would already be void under the new state statute. In short, any declaration about the contracts’ enforceability, voidness, or validity—either way—would be an advisory opinion with no real-world consequence. Trial courts in Florida are forbidden from issuing advisory opinions, and this case should be dismissed.”
- Disney is pushing for the case to be fought in federal court, where it is asking that a judge restore its authority over the special district, arguing that DeSantis’s actions violated its constitutional rights, and uphold the development contracts that were voided a couple of weeks ago.
- Disney’s legal team also says in their motion:
- “Faced with a newly hostile state administration, Disney aimed to protect its planned investments in Central Florida—including thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars in capital over the next decade—by executing two development contracts with the local government body that had managed the special district where Disney has been located for more than 50 years. Public notice appeared twice in a prominent Orlando newspaper, and there were two public hearings on the subject. Over no objection, the contracts were executed in early February.”
- The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board chairman has not commented on the situation.
More on Disney’s legal battle with Florida:
- Earlier this year, DeSantis signed legislation that allowed him to appoint his own members to the Reedy Creek Board, all of whom are mentioned and being sued in the lawsuit from the Walt Disney Company.
- Phrasing in their recently amended lawsuit from Disney includes, “The State’s actions over the last two weeks are the latest strikes. At the Governor’s bidding, the State’s oversight board has purported to ‘void’ publicly noticed and duly agreed development contracts, which had laid the foundation for billions of Disney’s investment dollars and thousands of jobs. Days later, the State Legislature enacted and Governor DeSantis signed legislation rendering these contracts immediately void and unenforceable. These government actions were patently retaliatory, patently anti-business, and patently unconstitutional.”
- Knowing DeSantis will do whatever he can, the lawsuit also adds “The Governor and his allies have made clear they do not care and will not stop. The Governor recently declared that his team would not only “void the development agreement”—just as the State has now done, twice—but also planned “to look at things like taxes on the hotels,” “tolls on the roads,” “developing some of the property that the district owns” with “more amusement parks,” and even putting a “state prison” next to Walt Disney World. “Who knows? I just think the possibilities are endless,” he said.”
- It should also be noted that Disney is not the only one with a district similar to that of Reedy Creek, with The Villages retirement and 55+ community and even Daytona International Speedway operating with their own similar district with their own regulations.