Disney’s federal lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) has been dismissed by United States District Judge Allen Winsor.
Disney Lawsuit Against DeSantis Dismissed
In the suit’s conclusion, Winsor gave a judgment that:
This case was resolved on motions to dismiss. Plaintiff’s claims against the Governor and the Department Secretary are dismissed without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff’s claims against the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board emmbers are dismissed on the merits for failure to state a claim.
In the 17-page Clerk’s Judgement, Winsor explains that Disney lacks standing to sue the governor and secretary, and the claims against CFTOD fail on merits because “when a statute is facially constitutional, a plaintiff cannot bring a free-speech challenge by claiming that the lawmakers who passed it acted with a constitutionally impermissible purpose.”
The judge goes on to say that,
Disney also argues that even if the laws do not explicitly target it, they come close enough to warrant a Hubbard exception. But there is no “close enough” exception. A law either explicitly singles out a specific group or it does not, and the laws here do not.Judge Allen Winsor
Disney has issued a statement expressing their intent to appeal the decision in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
DeSantis and CFTOD filed to dismiss the federal lawsuit in late September 2023. The governor initially filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit back in June, but had to re-file after Disney updated their lawsuit and changed some of their claims to be part of a countersuit against CFTOD at the state level.
Disney originally filed their case against DeSantis and CFTOD over “a targeted campaign of government retaliation —orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech” in relation to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the Parental Rights in Education law and DeSantis’ dissolution of the former Reedy Creek Improvement District and transformation into the current CFTOD.
CFTOD pushed back against this in their September motion to dismiss, citing that Disney “does not have a First Amendment right to its preferred governance structure for the district in which it is located.”
Before this judgment was passed down, CFTOD filed a new document asking the judge to ignore a recent appeals court decision that states DeSantis had retaliated against someone for using their First Amendment rights.