Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against DeSantis Over Terminating Disney’s Special District

By Eric Daugherty, Florida's Voice

May 11, 2022 Updated 9:54 AM ET

Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom (@waltdisneyworld, Instagram)
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom (@waltdisneyworld, Instagram)

May 11, 2022 Updated 9:54 A.M. ET

MIAMI (FLV) – A U.S. federal judge quickly dismissed a new lawsuit filed against Gov. Ron DeSantis for signing a law to terminate the Walt Disney Company’s special district encompassing Walt Disney World in Central Florida.

The suit was filed last week Miami lawyer and Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate William Sanchez. The plaintiffs claimed that Florida violated the “Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights” and an embattled contractual obligation that the Reedy Creek Improvement District must pay off bond debts before being dissolved. It also claimed that the law violates Disney’s First Amendment rights.

Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga, appointed by President George W. Bush, a Republican, said that the dismissal is because the federal court lacks standing over state issues and that the law does not take effect until July 2023.

She said that the plaintiffs “do not plausibly allege they have suffered any concrete injury as a result of the alleged violation of Disney’s First Amendment rights, and nothing in the Complaint shows Plaintiffs have a close relationship with Disney.”

She continued that the law “does not apply to them, they do not allege direct harm as a result of the challenged law, and they do not plausibly allege any credible threat of direct harm in the future.”

“The bill does not apply to Plaintiffs at all.”

Sanchez said he will refile the suit.

“This is just the beginning of the battle, as we are attempting to achieve justice for Florida taxpayers,” Sanchez said.

It is unclear if Disney will sue Florida over the new law, the judge’s new ruling points to a high likelihood that taxpayers in the Orange-Osceola area do not have standing to sue Florida, meaning any high hopes of overturning the law might rest on Disney itself.

Contrary to the lawsuit’s claims, DeSantis reportedly has a plan to ensure that taxpayers will not pay more after the district is dissolved.

“As Governor DeSantis has said, Disney will pay its fair share of taxes, and abolishing the special district will not cause tax increases for the residents of any area of Florida,” DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw said. 

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