Disney Checkmates DeSantis, Board Begs To Stop Lawsuit

in Disney, Walt Disney World

Ron DeSantis with Mickey Mouse statue

Credit: Inside the Magic

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis just gave what was widely perceived as a disappointing performance in the first GOP Presidential candidate debate, and now there’s worse news: his handpicked Disney board is begging to get out of its lawsuit.

Ron DeSantis gesturing while speaking on stage
Credit: Right Cheer, Matt Johnson, Flickr

While the ongoing battle between Ron DeSantis and Disney has a whole lot of layers (beginning with former CEO Bob Chapek’s lukewarm stance against the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law), the crux of it is the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, formerly known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

Since 1967, the former Reedy Creek served as a special tax district for Walt Disney World, essentially functioning as an autonomous area run by the company itself (which also footed the multi-million bills for its maintenance).

EPCOT Ball
Credit: DisneyTips

However, in what is alleged by Disney to be an indicative reprisal by DeSantis, the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District has been working overtime to fight the House of Mouse.

But now, it’s the district board that is trying to get out of its legal troubles.

Related: DeSantis’ Board Will Spend Over $6 Million in Fight Against Disney World, Report Claims

DeSantis, Disney, and So Many Lawsuits

Until last week, there were two lawsuits between DeSantis and Disney, one in the Federal courts and one in the state of Florida.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

More recently, Disney filed a new countersuit against the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, alleging Breach of Contract and violations of the Florida Constitution. The company is asking the courts to specifically rule that Senate Bill 1604: Land Use and Development Regulations (which dissolved Reedy Creek) is unconstitutional.

Rather than combat the multi-billion dollar Disney on yet another legal front, the district board is trying to just get out of this one rather than go to court.

CFTOD Stay Request

Per WDW News Today, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board has filed a two-page motion to stay the state lawsuit, claiming that its claims are the same as in the Federal. Basically, it is asking the court not to make it fight the same battle against a very litigious mega-company twice.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis pointing concerned
Credit: Phil Sears/ AP Photo

There is some legal precedent for this. The district board is citing the Pullman abstention, which generally serves to avoid conflicts between Federal and state rulings. Specifically, the abstention requires three things:

  • The case presents both state grounds and federal constitutional grounds for relief
  • The proper resolution of the state ground for the decision is unclear
  • The disposition of the state ground could obviate adjudication of the federal constitutional ground

As of now, the court has not yet ruled whether it will allow the stay, which would basically grind the lawsuit to a halt.

DeSantis Trying to Move On

It is not a good look for DeSantis and his Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board that they seem to be trying to do everything they can to get out of the various lawsuits rather than fight them.

Elsa's Ice Palace comes to life inside of Hong Kong Disneyland at World of Frozen
Credit: HKDL Fantasy on Twitter

Related: DeSantis’ Team Officially Ends Disney World Annual Pass Program

The district board has already unsuccessfully asked for one lawsuit to be dropped in court, and DeSantis himself asked for Bob Iger to voluntarily drop the lawsuits on the grounds that the presidential candidate had “moved on.” For the record, the notion that the defendant was no longer interested in fighting a lawsuit is not usually legal grounds for it to be dropped.

At the same time, DeSantis’s district has been dealing with everything from a member teaching false slavery history to being forced to step down over ethics conflicts, so no wonder they feel under pressure.

Who do you think will win in the DeSantis-Disney legal battles? Let us know in the comments below!

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