NATIONAL NEWS

Settlement reached in lawsuit between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis allies and Disney

Mar 27, 2024, 7:25 AM | Updated: 7:38 am

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Allies of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Disney reached a settlement agreement Wednesday in a lawsuit over who controls Walt Disney World’s governing district.

In a meeting, the members of the board of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District approved the settlement agreement, ending almost two years of litigation that was sparked by DeSantis’ takeover of the district from Disney supporters following the company’s opposition to Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law.

The 2022 law bans classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades and was championed by DeSantis, who used Disney as a punching bag in speeches until he suspended his presidential campaign this year.

As punishment for Disney’s opposition, DeSantis took over the governing district through legislation passed by the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature and appointed a new board of supervisors. Disney sued DeSantis and his appointees, claiming the company’s free speech rights were violated for speaking out against the legislation. A federal judge dismissed that lawsuit in January.

Before control of the district changed hands from Disney allies to DeSantis appointees early last year, the Disney supporters on its board signed agreements with Disney shifting control over design and construction at Disney World to the company. The new DeSantis appointees claimed the “eleventh-hour deals” neutered their powers and the district sued the company in state court in Orlando to have the contracts voided.

Disney filed counterclaims that include asking the state court to declare the agreements valid and enforceable.

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