Walt Disney World

New Judge in Disney’s Lawsuit Against Florida Governor DeSantis Sets Pre-Trial Timeline

Just one day after Judge Walker recused himself from a lawsuit brought against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis by Disney, the new judge, Judge Allen C. Winsor, has ruled on the pre-trial timeline. The motions for the pre-trial timeline were agreed to by both parties.

Pre-Trial Timeline

  • June 20, 2023: Deadline for rules conference
  • June 26, 2023: Defendants’ deadline to file motions to dismiss
  • June 27, 2023: Deadline for rules filing
  • August 9, 2023: Plaintiff’s deadline to respond to any motions to dismiss

These dates set a timeline for when any pre-trial motions can be submitted by either Disney or the DeSantis team. Once these have been completed, the case will then presumably move to trial.

The Lawsuit Filed by Disney Against DeSantis

The lawsuit in question was filed by Disney in April in Federal Court. It accuses DeSantis of waging a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power” against the company.

This lawsuit also alleges that DeSantis has a campaign to punish Disney over its political views, which DeSantis often refers to as “woke.’ Disney accuses DeSantis of illegally voiding a Development Agreement that transferred some powers from the district to Disney. Disney is asking for the Federal Court to declare that legislation dissolving the Development Agreement is both unlawful and also unenforceable. This includes the fact that it was  “enacted in retaliation for Disney’s political speech in violation of the First Amendment. This campaign was “orchestrated at every step’” by DeSantis Disney says and it now threatens the company’s business.

The lawsuit came on the same day that a new board for the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District voted to nullify a development deal that was made by Disney and the former Reedy Creek Improvement District. This came before Governor DeSantis dissolved that districted and replaced it with the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District which has hand-picked board members by the governor.

The lawsuit Disney filed called the board’s actions “patently retaliatory, patently anti-business and patently unconstitutional.”

The lawsuit against the governor also says, “A targeted campaign of government retaliation—orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech—now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights.”

The lawsuit also says “Today’s action is the latest strike: At the Governor’s bidding, the State’s oversight board has purported to ‘void’ publicly noticed and duly agreed development contracts, which had laid the foundation for billions of Disney’s investment dollars and thousands of jobs. This government action was patently retaliatory, patently anti-business, and patently unconstitutional. But the Governor and his allies have made clear they do not care and will not stop. The Governor recently declared that his team would not only ‘void the development agreement’—just as they did today—but also planned ‘to look at things like taxes on the hotels,’ ‘tolls on the roads,’ ‘developing some of the property that the district owns’ with ‘more amusement parks,’ and even putting a ‘state prison’ next to Walt Disney World. ‘Who knows? I just think the possibilities are endless,’ he said.”

The lawsuit was filed by Daniel M. Petrocelli from Los Angeles on behalf of Disney in the United States District Court in Tallahassee. Petrocelli represented Donald Trump previously when he was dealing with a class-action fraud case against the now-non-existent Trump University. Initially, the case was to be heard by Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker. Judge Walker was appointed by President Obama. Now it will be heard by  Judge Allen C. Winsor, who was appointed by President Donald Trump in 2019.

The full lawsuit can be read here: