The feud between Walt Disney Co. and Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis has been going on for over a year, and much like the Hollywood dual strike, it doesn’t seem like it will be ending any time soon. After Governor DeSantis took away Disney’s ability to self-govern its theme parks, the massive corporation is retaliating with a powerful lawsuit of its own, according to Deadline. In the new counterclaim, Disney is seeking damages and an agreement to development contracts.
The legal battle between Disney and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis hit a new level, as the company is counterusing for damages.
The battle between Disney and Ron DeSantis kicked off on March 8, 2022, when the Florida governor passed a law restricting schools from teaching students about sexual orientation and gender identity (better known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill). This didn’t sit well with Disney’s then-CEO Bob Chapek, so he voiced his opinion on the matter and publicly opposed the new bill. The governor then turned on Disney, and allegedly, as punishment, he took away their autonomy and self-governing privileges over their theme parks.
Governor DeSantis took control of the board that oversees Disney’s theme parks and municipal services, allowing him to appoint his own members. This essentially gave him all the power over Disney’s theme parks. He also changed the name of the board from Reedy Creek Improvement District to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.
Governor DeSantis recently asked Disney to drop the lawsuit, saying that Florida has “moved on,” but with this latest filing, it’s clear the corporation intends to wage a lengthy legal battle.
In addition, Governor DeSantis also threatened to further hinder Disney’s business by adding tolls and taxes to Florida businesses near theme parks and even joked about erecting a prison near Disney World. After being able to run their theme parks however they wanted to for 50 years, Disney is clearly upset with the Florida governor over the new regulations.
Much like Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, Disney’s legal team has come to the company’s aid because nobody puts Mickey in a corner. In the newly filed countersuit, Disney is attempting to sue the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District for allegedly illegally taking away their authority. They are also suing Governor DeSantis for voiding an agreement that would have given some power back to Disney.
It looks like Governor DeSantis may be backing down because he has publicly urged Disney to drop the lawsuit, claiming that he has moved on from it. It could be that the governor is regretting his decision to poke the billion-dollar bear, and now he is not prepared for the fight that comes next.
While Disney does not want to back down from their fight in Florida, their legal team will have to juggle a few different lawsuits at the same time. Currently, Disney is being sued by TSG Entertainment Finance over shady “Hollywood accounting” business after they attempted to cheat the financial company out of significant profits. If Disney loses the lawsuit (which is being fought by attorney John Berlinski), then they could owe TSG millions of dollars.
Disney’s legal battle with Florida is just one of many the company is engaged in, including one alleging hiding money and another over Indiana Jones.
As the fight between Disney and Florida rages on, the Walt Disney World theme parks are still open to the public, and it looks like the company is earning incredible profits after its struggle during the 2020 pandemic.