Disney’s Florida Legal Battle continues as Free Speech Lawsuit is dismissed

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Walt Disney Company lost a lawsuit today in Florida after it was dismissed. The Walt Disney Company suffered a legal defeat today after its lawsuit alleging retaliation was dismissed in a Florida court. claim focused on the state’s violation of the company’s First Amendment rightsStanding against Governor Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” bill, a Laws against homophobiaYou can also find out more about us here. Endangers the rights of LGBTQIA+ and their families.

After Disney spoke out against the bill, DeSantis and the state of Florida removed Disney’s control of a special district overseeing its Orlando theme park’s day to day operations and infrastructure. The zone has been renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. Governors have direct influence in the appointment of its representatives. This action then sparked Disney’s First Amendment lawsuit.

CNBCReports that Judge Allen Winsor ruled that “Disney lacked legal standing to sue DeSantis and the secretary of Florida’s Commerce Department” and that its claims “fail on the merits against members of the board of a special improvement district in which the company operates its parks and resort.”

CNBC also shared the Walt Disney Company’s response to the lawsuit being dismissed. “This is an important case with serious implications for the rule of law, and it will not end here,” a spokesperson said, adding if the ruling were “left unchallenged, this would set a dangerous precedent and give license to states to weaponize their official powers to punish the expression of political viewpoints they disagree with. We are determined to press forward with our case.”

As that statement suggests, Disney’s legal battle in Florida is far from over. The company still has Another lawsuit in the courtsIn December, it accused the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District for failing to comply with a request for public records. Disney called for an Orange County court to immediately order the the board to hand over “all outstanding requested records,” and also declared it’s unlawfully holding back documentation.

Disney CEO Bob Iger publicly supported the legal battles“The company, while I was gone, decided to take a stance against the Don’t Speak Gay bill which was moving through Florida Legislature,” he said in November 2023. “The company, while I was gone, decided to take a position against the Don’t Say Gay bill that was moving through the Florida Legislature,” he said in November 2023. “The governor got very, very angry at the company when it took that position and decided to punish the company by basically stripping its rights to a special district around Disney World that had been in place for decades … The question wasn’t even about the [bill, later law]. It was about a company’s right to free expression. And if it exercises its right to free speech, it should not face retribution.”

Io9 will provide you with updates on Disney vs. DeSantis, as they happen.

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