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New Twist In Disney Vs DeSantis: Mouse House Wants To Scale Down Lawsuit

The dispute between Disney and DeSantis began more than a year ago when the former rejected the "don't say gay" statute in Florida

Walt Disney has been locked in a long-drawn battle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is contesting in the Republican presidential primary race. The company has reportedly sought to narrow the scope of a lawsuit it initiated against the governor in late April.

What Happened: Disney on Friday had filed a motion to amend its multi-part federal complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, the New York Times reported.

The amendment seeks to remove the part related to the development contracts worth about $17 billion the company previously committed over the next decade. Disney’s core accusation that DeSantis and the state violated its First Amendment rights with “a targeted campaign of government retaliation” was, however, retained.

A sign near an entranceway to Walt Disney World on MAY 22, 2023 in Orlando, Florida. Walt Disney and Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, have been engaged in a protracted legal dispute. JOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES

Disney’s quest to remove the part related to development contracts may have to do with the fact that it is being covered by an ongoing state case between the two parties. The DeSantis-appointed board, which wrested from Disney the administration of the special tax district where the latter’s Orlando theme park is situated, has filed a case against the company in state court over the legality of the agreements.

DeSantis isn’t a party in the state court lawsuit.

Disney reportedly said in the filing the revised complaint would challenge “this unconstitutional weaponization of government by seeking a declaratory judgment that will allow Disney to pursue its future in Florida free from the ongoing retaliatory actions of the CFTOD Board.”

U.S. District Court Judge Allen Winsor rejected Disney’s motion to narrow the scope as the company did not adhere to the procedural requirement of conferring with the defendant’s attorney before filing such a request, AP reported. The judge reportedly said Disney could refile after complying with the court rule.

Why It’s Important: The standoff between Disney and DeSantis started over a year back when the former opposed the Florida state’s “don’t say gay” law.  The law prohibits discussions regarding sexual orientation in classes up to grade three, and this was later expanded to grade 12.

DeSantis retaliated by stripping Disney of the special administrative power it enjoyed in the Reedy Creek district and instituting a new board, replacing the previous pro-Disney board.

It was then Disney went ahead with a lawsuit to gain immunity against what it alleged as the state’s retaliatory tactics. The company also scrapped plans to invest $1 billion in a campus in Florida.

A sign near an entranceway to Walt Disney World on MAY 22, 2023 in Orlando, Florida. Walt Disney and Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, have been engaged in a protracted legal dispute. JOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES

The legal travails come at a time when Disney is seeing fundamental challenges, which has also weighed down on its stock price.

Disney settled Friday’s session down 2.44% at $81.64, according to Zenger News Pro data.

Produced in association with Benzinga

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