Reedy Creek Improvement District

Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Sues Disney

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District on Monday morning voted to countersue The Walt Disney Company. In the afternoon, it filed the suit in circuit court in Orange County. The lawsuit alleges that the former Reedy Creek Improvement District failed to give proper public notice ahead of approving a Development Agreement, which has been a source of controversy between Disney and the DeSantis picked board for the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

The lawsuit also claims that the Reedy Creek Improvement District had no authority to even assign the development rights. Because of this, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District says that the Development Agreement is completely null and void.

The new lawsuit was decided to be filed during the same meeting that the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District also voted to defend itself from the Disney lawsuit. “The district will seek justice in state court here in central Florida where both it and Disney reside and do business,” said Martin Garcia, chair of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. This appeared to be a swipe at Disney, which filed its lawsuit in the Northern District of Florida in Tallahassee. This appears to be the required federal court due to the nature of the lawsuit.

“These agreements reek of a backroom deal — drafted by Disney with the acquiescence a lawyer who represented both Disney and the District, set for hearing without proper notice, and hustled through a compliant Disney-controlled Board that Disney knew would not dwell long on the issue,” the lawsuit reads. “But perhaps out of haste or arrogance, Disney’s deals violate basic principles of Florida constitutional, statutory, and common law.”

The lawsuit continues and says that since Disney insists that the Development Agreement is valid, the board is seeking a  “judicial declaration regarding their invalidity.”

“Despite the obvious deficiencies in the one-sided deals Disney drafted for its former Board members to rubber stamp, Disney continues to insist that they are valid and enforceable against the District,” the lawsuit reads.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis spoke out on Monday saying that no company is above the law. He also insisted that he is pursuing the will of the people as he continues to go after Disney.

“It is wrong for one corporation to basically corrupt the local government and run it as their own fiefdom,” DeSantis said. “It’s been very disappointing to watch this particular company, what they’ve done by advocating things like the sexualization of children, very close relationship with the Chinese communist party — that’s all very problematic.”

Disney, for its part, has continued to maintain that all deals were made in accordance with the law and were done publicly. There has been plenty of transparency that has been available for those who have been watching this story develop since the conflict first began. The Development Agreement could be seen in process on the Reedy Creek Improvement District website in its minutes. The process was also publicized in local papers and on the Reedy Creek Improvement District website.

Bob Iger spoke during a recent earnings call that Disney has plans to continue to invest in Florida that will total up to billions of dollars of investment with thousands of new jobs and that actions towards Disney’s efforts “simply to retaliate for a position the company took sounds not just anti-business but it sounds anti-Florida.”

The full lawsuit can be read here: