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DeSantis’ Board Considering Settlement With Disney

Walt Dreamer Statue. Disney World 2024 updates and changes
Credit: Disney

The legal wrangling has been going on for months between the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and the Walt Disney Company, and the court battles have just started, but it appears that one of them is looking for a back door.

Bob Iger, Ron DeSantis in front of Cinderella Castle

Credit: Disney; Flickr, Right Cheer

Related: Chief Justice John Roberts Just Sent a Message to DeSantis, Bring Disney Feud to Supreme Court and You’ll Lose

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District released its agenda for its July 26 meeting. There is the usual district business, but the final item foretells what the Board might be thinking. The Board will adjourn the last portion of its meeting and go into a special closed session to discuss strategy and settlement negotiations with its lawyers in its ongoing legal issues Disney.

The agenda item reads:

As requested by the Acting General Counsel, pursuant to Section 286.011(8), Florida Statutes, the Board of Supervisors of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District will hold an Attorney/Client Executive Closed Session to discuss strategy and settlement negotiations related to litigation expenditures in the following cases: Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S., Inc. v. DeSantis, et. al., N.D. Fla. Case No. 4:23-cv-00163-MW-MJF and Central Florida Tourism Oversight District v. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S., Inc., Orange County Circuit Court Case No. 2023-CA-011818-O. The persons in attendance at the closed-door meeting will be Board of Supervisor members, Chair – Martin Garcia, Vice-Chair – Charbel Barakat, Brian Aungst, Jr., Ron Peri, and Bridget Ziegler; District Administrator Glenton Gilzean; Acting General Counsel Daniel Langley and A. Kurt Ardaman; and litigation counsel Paul Huck.

DeSantis feud with Disney

Credit: Disney; Flickr, Gage Skidmore

This is a new turn of events, as the Board and Disney were in Circuit Court last week, with Disney requesting that the lawsuit filed by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District be tossed out. Lawyers for the Walt Disney Company argued that because the Florida Legislature passed a law voiding any deals between Disney World and the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the lawsuit filed by the Board is no longer valid.

State Court Judge Margaret Schreiber did not decide the case but said she would consult legal precedent and take a “few days” to decide.

Disney is currently suing the Board and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over his retaliation over Disney speaking out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, known by its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Governor DeSantis asked the Federal Court to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming he has “absolute legislative immunity.” 

Cinderella Castle

Credit: Disney

Gov DeSantis has asked the court to postpone any trial until 2025, after the Presidential election, while Disney has asked for a 2024 trial date.

Should the new Board decide to settle its case with the Walt Disney Company, there is no telling what could happen to the development agreement initially signed by Walt Disney and Florida. Since it was an act of the Florida Legislature that dissolved the development agreement in the first place, this settlement would not simply return control of Walt Disney World to Disney.

But it would put one legal headache to rest and open the possibility of Florida Gov DeSantis and Disney finally sitting down for a discussion on a settlement. There may be a small glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel.

We will continue to update this story at Disney Fanatic.

 

About Rick

Rick is an avid Disney fan. He first went to Disney World in 1986 with his parents and has been hooked ever since. Rick is married to another Disney fan and is in the process of turning his two children into fans as well. When he is not creating new Disney adventures, he loves to watch the New York Yankees and hang out with his dog, Buster. In the fall, you will catch him cheering for his beloved NY Giants.

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