On January 31, a district court in Florida dismissed The Walt Disney Company’s lawsuit against state governor Ron DeSantis. The lawsuit was filed against DeStantis after he and the Florida government took control over a special district last year that contained Disney World.
This all started after Disney publicly spoke out against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” which targets and prevents the discussion of gender and sexual identity in the state’s public schools. Shortly after that, DeSantis—in a move seen by most as retaliatory—began the process of stripping Disney of its special district status, which allowed the company to maintain its own roads, power and water utilities, and other financial benefits.
When DeSantis’ hand-appointed district council tried to shut down Disney’s attempt to hold on to control, the Mickey Mouse company’s army of lawyers filed a lawsuit against DeSantis in April 2023. This sparked a months-long feud between the former presidential hopeful and the entertainment monolith. And now, a judge has tossed out Disney’s case, setting back the company’s fight to hold onto control of the district where Disney World resides.
On Wednesday, Northern District Court of Florida judge Allen Winsor said that Disney lacked standing to file the lawsuit. The judge ruled that Disney’s claim of injury resulting from the newly appointed board members was “in the past.” The judge also explained that the company failed to show damages from any specific actions the new board has taken or because of DeSantis’ alleged interference.
“In fact, Disney has not alleged any specific injury from any board action,” Winsor, who was nominated by then-President Donald Trump in 2018 and sworn into his position the following year, said.
A Disney spokesperson provided the following statement to NBC:
This is an important case with serious implications for the rule of law, and it will not end here. If left unchallenged, this would set a dangerous precedent and give license to states to weaponize their official powers to punish the expression of political viewpoints they disagree with. We are determined to press forward with our case.
Disney will likely continue to fight DeSantis and the Florida government over the district and resulting decisions by its new council. But for now, Mickey Mouse has taken a court-ordered gut punch and will probably need to catch his breath for a bit.