A judge from the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida has ruled in favor of Disney in its effort to push a December hearing with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District back to early 2024. Judge Margaret Schreiber granted Disney’s previously filed motion of continuance on November 8, ruling that the company made a convincing argument that the District has not yet produced vital discovery in this state-level suit.
Judge Grants Disney’s Motion to Push Hearing to 2024
The hearing was previously scheduled for December 12, but Disney filed a motion for a 75-day continuance on October 26 after alleging that CFTOD had “been dodging its obligations to produce concededly relevant discovery while rushing consideration of its motion for summary judgment.” Disney wrote in the motion that the company shares the District’s desire to quickly resolve the case “but cannot [do so] at the cost of developing relevant facts,” also noting that CFTOD “failed to produce a single document for nearly two months following Disney’s request, broke commitments to agreed-upon deadlines, and remains in possession of discovery that Disney needs to develop its summary judgment opposition.” “Discovery” refers to documents and other evidence exchanged between parties.
Disney argued in their initial motion that the lack of requested discovery given to them by the District “deprive[d] [the company] of the time needed to compile this record in support of its opposition.” Judge Schreiber seemingly found this argument and the one made in front of her by the company’s lawyers convincing, as the hearing has been pushed back to early next year. A new hearing date has not yet been officially set.
The District did produce 1,209 documents after business hours on October 24. The documents were not from any of the summary judgment declarants or members of the CFTOD board.
Disney vs. DeSantis & CFTOD
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Walt Disney Company initially clashed over the corporation’s opposition to a much-debated and controversial Florida law regarding classroom instruction and discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools, alongside various other recent state laws and proposals in a similar vein.
Now-former CEO Bob Chapek initially remained silent and passive on the issue — until massive internal criticisms from Cast Members, the LGBTQ+ community, and controversy over Disney making hefty political contributions to campaigns and individuals allegedly against their own stated human principles came into focus. Former and future CEO Bob Iger also condemned the law.
After Chapek finally denounced the law, Governor DeSantis moved forward with various verbal and legal assaults on Disney, including the attempted dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Ultimately, the District was renamed and DeSantis appointed his own Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors.
DeSantis is attacking what he calls “woke politics” allegedly invading the state — frequently stating his intention to put the people of Florida first through his actions and via the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District:
Disney has gotten away with special deals from the state of Florida for way too long. It took a look under the hood to see what Disney has become to truly understand their inappropriate influence.
After the CFTOD Board attempted to declare Disney’s final agreements with RCID null and void, Disney filed a federal lawsuit against the Board and DeSantis, calling their actions a violation of their constitutional rights.
In the lawsuit, Disney cites “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.”
Disney regrets that it has come to this. But having exhausted efforts to seek a resolution, the Company is left with no choice but to file this lawsuit to protect its cast members, guests, and local development partners from a relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain State officials.
The Board then filed a state lawsuit against Disney and Disney is now countersuing on the state level, arguing that because RCID was never actually dissolved, the CFOTD is essentially the same entity and is going back on its word.
What do you think of Judge Schreiber ruling in favor of Disney in its effort to push the December hearing back? Let us know in the comments.