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Disney, DeSantis-backed Florida tourism board settle lawsuit

Disney and the Gov. Ron DeSantis-backed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Wednesday settled a lawsuit over control of Disney Florida properties. DeSantis installed a board stripping Disney of its longstanding control over the district after Disney opposed the Don’t Say Gay law. Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI | License Photo
March 27 (UPI) — Disney and a Gov. Ron DeSantis-backed-board Wednesday settled a lawsuit over control of the company’s Florida properties related to the state takeover of a special tourism district Disney controlled for over fifty years. DeSantis moved to take over that board after Disney opposed legislation known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law. Advertisement
A separate federal lawsuit by Disney alleging Florida violated the company’s First Amendment rights is still ongoing.
“We are pleased to put an end to all litigation pending in state court in Florida between Disney and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District,” a Disney spokesperson said.
Walt Disney World Resort President Jeff Vahle said the settlement opens a new chapter of constructive engagement that serves the interests of all parties.
The agreement ending the litigation voids development agreements passed by a Disney-friendly board shortly before the state takeover.
But a 2020 comprehensive plan remained in effect. The district also agreed to consult with Disney should that plan be reviewed or amended.
Charbel Barakat, vice chair of the oversight district’s board, said, “With this settlement, which is complete and significant, we are eager to work with Disney.”
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Disney is appealing a federal judge’s decision to toss the First Amendment suit against Florida.
After a federal judge tossed the suit in January, Disney said it would appeal because if left unchallenged it would set a dangerous precedent of allowing states to weaponize their official powers to “punish the expression of political viewpoints they disagree with.”

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