Disney Cites Ron DeSantis’ Latest Comments And Actions In Updated Lawsuit Against Florida Governor

The Walt Disney Co. filed an amended lawsuit against Florida governor Ron DeSantis after the state legislature moved to void a 30-year theme park development agreement.

In the latest round of a escalating battle between the company and the prospective presidential candidate, Disney is citing some of DeSantis’ recent comments to make its claim that the governor’s moves are retaliatory strikes due to its opposition to a parental rights bill last year.

Disney’s amended complaint — read it here — opens with a DeSantis quote from last week, in which he said, “[T]his all started, of course, with our parents’ rights bill.”

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The crux of Disney’s lawsuit is that DeSantis violated its constitutional rights by moving to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the public entity that oversees its Florida resort property, after the company opposed the bill, referred to as the “don’t say gay” bill by its detractors.

Earlier this year, DeSantis signed legislation that allowed him to appoint his own members to the Reedy Creek board. But before the state gained control of the board, Disney entered into a development agreement with the special district that gave it autonomy on what gets built on its land and the surrounding property.

Last week, the DeSantis-appointees to the board and then the state legislature moved to void that development agreement.

“The State’s actions over the last two weeks are the latest strikes,” Disney said in its amended complaint. “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.”

The amended complaint comes two days before Disney’s next earnings call, scheduled for May 10.

The company also warned in its lawsuit that DeSantis may be making more moves.

“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.”

More to come.

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