Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has amended its lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his hand-picked oversight board, dropping all of its claims except one.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court, now focuses solely on the claim that DeSantis and his allies allegedly weaponized their political power to retaliate against the company for exercising its First Amendment right to free speech.
“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,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit is part of an ongoing conflict between Disney, one of Florida’s largest taxpayers and employers, and DeSantis. Tensions rose last year after Disney spoke out against a bill championed by DeSantis that banned certain instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida classrooms, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics. The bill passed and DeSantis signed it into law in March 2022.
The amended lawsuit claims that DeSantis has illegally punished the company since it spoke out. When asked for comment, a spokesperson for DeSantis pointed to a motion filed by his team last month that said Disney “effectively concedes” many of the claims it made in its initial lawsuit.
A representative for DeSantis on Thursday pointed CNN to this passage in that month-ago filing: “The Governor welcomes Disney’s surrender on all of its claims challenging his legislative acts. As for the claims Disney continues to press, Disney lacks standing to sue the Governor for those actions.”
Disney initially filed its lawsuit against DeSantis, a 2024 Republican presidential hopeful, in April, after DeSantis appointed a board made up of his political allies to oversee the special taxing district that contains Walt Disney World Resort. In May, the oversight board voted tofile its own lawsuit against Disney to maintain its control of the district.
While Disney’s claims of contract and due process violations regarding its special taxing district have been dropped from the federal lawsuit, those issues will still be heard in the separate state court lawsuit filed by DeSantis’ oversight board.
The amended lawsuit comes less than one month after DeSantis encouraged Disney to drop its lawsuit in an interview with CNBC. “They’re gonna lose that lawsuit,” he said.
™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.