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Disney drops part of lawsuit against DeSantis to focus on free speech claims


Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has amended its lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his hand-picked board of supervisors, dropping all but one of its claims.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, now focuses solely on the claim that DeSantis and his allies used their political power as a weapon to retaliate against the company for exercising its right to free speech. first amendment.

“A targeted campaign of government retaliation – orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis to punish Disney protected speech – now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights” , says the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is part of an ongoing dispute between Disney, one of Florida’s largest taxpayers and employers, and DeSantis. Tensions mounted last year after Disney spoke out against a bill championed by DeSantis that banned certain teachings about sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida classrooms, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law by critics. The bill passed and DeSantis signed it into law in March 2022.

The amended lawsuit claims that DeSantis has unlawfully punished the company since speaking out. When asked for comment, a DeSantis spokesperson pointed to a motion filed by his team last month that Disney “effectively concedes” many of the claims he made in his original lawsuit.

A representative for DeSantis pointed out to CNN on Thursday this passage in this filing filed a month ago: “The governor welcomes Disney’s waiver of all of its claims challenging its legislative acts. As for the claims Disney continues to make, Disney does not have standing to sue the governor for these actions.

Disney originally filed a lawsuit against DeSantis, a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, in April after DeSantis appointed a board of directors made up of his political allies to oversee the special tax district that contains Walt Disney World Resort. . In May, the Board of Supervisors voted to file its own lawsuit against Disney to maintain its control over the district.

Although Disney’s allegations of breaches of contract and due process regarding its special tax district have been withdrawn from the federal lawsuit, those issues will still be heard in a separate lawsuit in state court filed by the board. monitoring from DeSantis.

The amended lawsuit comes less than a month after DeSantis encouraged Disney to drop his lawsuit in an interview with CNBC. “They are going to lose this lawsuit,” he said.