Lawyers representing the governing district of Walt Disney World, which was seized by Governor Ron DeSantis’ allies last year, are opposing the governor’s appointees from being subjected to questioning under oath as part of the state lawsuit against Disney.

The district attorneys filed a motion on Monday seeking a protective order to prevent DeSantis-appointed board members of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District from undergoing videotaped depositions requested by Disney’s legal team.

The legal battle between Disney and the DeSantis appointees revolves around control of the governing district for Disney World. Previously controlled by Disney supporters, the district underwent a takeover last year triggered by Disney’s opposition to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. Responsible for municipal services like firefighting and planning for over five decades, the district’s control shifted hands amidst the controversy.

The district attorneys argue the “apex doctrine,” which shields high-level government officers from depositions unless all other avenues for obtaining information have been exhausted. This doctrine, utilized in a handful of U.S. states, including Florida, is cited to fend off Disney’s attempts to depose board members.

According to the motion, Disney fails to demonstrate that individual board members possess unique, pertinent knowledge to the case, rendering the depositions a form of harassment against government officials.

Board members contend that being compelled to give depositions would hinder their ability to fulfill their duties and divert resources from overseeing the district.

Earlier, Disney expressed intentions to question six current and former DeSantis-appointed board members under oath for discovery purposes, citing obstruction from the district in providing requested documents. This dispute has led Disney to file a public records lawsuit against the district, alleging delays and inadequacies in their responses.

Since the takeover, the district has witnessed an exodus of experienced staff, with many attributing the politicization of the governing body to the changeover. Recent departures include the district’s administrator, who assumed a county elections supervisor role at a significantly reduced salary, and the departure of the DeSantis-appointed board chairman.

The conflict between DeSantis and Disney emerged in 2022 when Disney publicly opposed the “Don’t Say Gay” law championed by DeSantis. In response, DeSantis took control of the district through legislative measures and appointed a new board. Disney subsequently sued DeSantis and his appointees, alleging infringement of its free speech rights. However, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in January, prompting Disney’s appeal.

Before the transition of control, Disney supporters on the board had entered agreements with the company regarding design and construction at Disney World. The new DeSantis appointees argued these agreements diminished their authority, leading to the district suing Disney to nullify the contracts. Disney, in turn, filed counterclaims seeking validation and enforcement of the agreements through state court.