Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Files Motion to Dismiss Disney’s Countersuit, Says Disney ‘Has Unclean Hands’

Brit Tuttle

Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Files Motion to Dismiss Disney’s Countersuit, Says Disney ‘Has Unclean Hands’

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) has filed a new motion to dismiss Disney’s countersuit in state court, as well as an additional document that claims the company has “unclean hands.”

Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Files Motion to Dismiss Disney’s Countersuit

central florida tourism oversight district

In this new motion, CFTOD claims Disney’s counterclaims “fail as a matter of law” due to the fact that the Development Agreements and Restrictive Covenants are void, Disney “cannot possibly be entitled to declaratory and injunctive relief.” According to CFTOD, since Disney “has failed to state a claim for relief,” they are asking the court to dismiss the counterclaim entirely.

CFTOD goes on to say that “all of Disney’s counterclaims depend on the legal conclusion that the Agreements are valid contracts which are binding on the District.” In a motion for summary judgement filed on August 15, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District explained why the Agreements are allegedly invalid, void, and unenforceable, and claim that Disney’s allegations in their countersuit still do not contradict these explanations.

The motion goes on to summarize the reasons identified in the motion for summary judgement in relation to the request for dismissal, including that the Agreements are legally invalid for numerous reasons, breach of contract, and more. The motion also claims the District’s legislative declaration does not impair Disney’s contract rights, unlike what is claimed in the latter’s countersuit.

In another document filed alongside the motion to dismiss, the Plaintiff’s [CFTOD] Reply to Defendant’s [Disney] Affirmative Defenses, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District begins nearly every reply with the phrase, “Disney has unclean hands,” and claims that “Disney maintained absolute control over the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) before the District replaced RCID.”

Another reply claims Disney “is the cause of the Agreements’ invalidity,” and that the company “knew or should have known that the Agreements were fatally defective.”

The Disney-DeSantis Feud

This is the latest installment in the overall, long-running feud between Disney and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who hand-picked members of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board when the Reedy Creek Improvement District was dissolved.

The Florida Governor and Walt Disney Company initially clashed over the corporation’s opposition to a much-debated and controversial Florida law regarding classroom instruction and discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools, alongside various other recent state laws and proposals in a similar vein.

Bob Chapek was Chief Executive Officer at the time and initially remained silent and passive on the issue — until massive internal criticisms from Cast Members, the LGBTQ+ community, and controversy over Disney’s practice of making hefty political contributions to campaigns and individuals allegedly against their own stated human principles came into focus.

florida state capitol
Image Source: Orlando Weekly

In an apparent act of retribution over Chapek’s expression of dissent, the Governor moved forward with various verbal and legal assaults on Disney, including the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District and eventual transfer of power directly under his control. DeSantis argues he is attacking an incredibly vague perception of something he calls “woke politics,” allegedly invading the state — frequently stating his intention to put the people of Florida first through these actions and the newly-formed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board:

Disney has gotten away with special deals from the state of Florida for way too long. It took a look under the hood to see what Disney has become to truly understand their inappropriate influence.

Every member of this governing body has been a handpicked ally of the Governor thus far, including a Christian nationalist and lawyer who donated $50,000 to the DeSantis gubernatorial campaign, among others. In May, an administrator for the district (Glen Gilzean) was also appointed, with a significantly increased $400,000 salary directly related to ongoing DeSantis-led legal fights regarding Disney and several other issues around the state. The legal expenditures made by the Governor are being funded by Florida taxpayers.

Ron DeSantis Nov 22

DeSantis has previously argued he is attacking a vague perception of something he calls “woke politics,” allegedly invading the state — frequently stating his intention to put the people of Florida first through these actions and the newly-formed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board:

Disney has gotten away with special deals from the state of Florida for way too long. It took a look under the hood to see what Disney has become to truly understand their inappropriate influence.

DeSantis said in a CNBC interview that he has “moved on” from his battles with The Walt Disney Company, and wants the whole issue to be dropped.

Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Administrator Glen Gilzean Jr. resigned from his position as chairperson of the Florida Commission on Ethics last month, after it was discovered he had violated a rule of the Commission by taking the District job.

rcid reedy creek improvement district 6

At the end of August, it was revealed that CFTOD had already ended the Walt Disney World Annual Pass program for their employees with no notice.

Disney is expected to foot both sides of the bill in its battles against CFTOD and DeSantis, as Disney and its affiliated properties pay about 86 percent of the district’s property taxes, from which is where the funds for its legal expenses are pulled.

What do you think of this new motion to dismiss from CFTOD? Have you been keeping up with the long-running Disney and DeSantis saga? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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