Disney Fears Lawsuit Backfire – ‘Significant Harm’ If Trade Secrets Exposed

The Walt Disney Company is petitioning a Florida judge to protect its trade secrets amid concerns that their lawsuit against the DeSantis-appointed oversight district could backfire. Last week, The entertainment conglomerate raised concerns that the pending legal battle threatened to reveal some of its proprietary information through document discovery. In its request to the judge, the company feared the revelations could spell “significant harm.”

According to a report by the Associated Press, Disney submitted their petition in state court on Friday. In the request, the company expressed fears that the lawsuit would result in the release of trade secrets and technical, financial, and personal information to the public. If granted, the protective order would allow Disney to designate certain documents and depositions as “confidential” and require any individuals handling the material to sign a nondisclosure agreement.

According to the report, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District is not contesting Disney’s request.

“The parties have agreed to the form and context of this order, and recognize that the case is likely to involve the disclosure of confidential information, including trade secret and other nonpublic technical, commercial, financial, personal, and other sensitive information, the disclosure of which could result in significant harm to the producing party’s personal rights or business operations, and for which there exists a good-faith claim of protection from disclosure under applicable law.”

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The lawsuit is one of several legal battles stemming from a 2023 law that ended Disney’s self-governing status in the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The transfer of the district to state control followed the company’s public opposition to the 2022 Parental Rights in Education bill, which bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.

After the takeover, the Walt Disney Company also attempted to sue the district and Governor Ron DeSantis in federal court, claiming their First Amendment rights had been violated. That suit was dismissed on Wednesday after U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor in Tallahassee said the company lacked standing in their complaint.

“Because Disney seeks injunctive relief, it must allege an imminent future injury […] and it has not alleged facts showing that any imminent future appointments will contribute to its harm,

Here, similarly, no one reading the text of the challenged laws would suppose them directed against Disney […] The laws do not mention Disney.”

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The current lawsuit, filed by Disney on December 22, alleges that the CFTOD violated Florida’s public records law by failing to produce a document requested in May 2023.

“On the public records front, this has led to delays, inadequate preservation, storage and production of public records, and improper and unsupported claims of privilege and exemption from disclosure, in violation of the Florida Constitution and Chapter 119 […] The Court should grant Disney relief.”

Last month, the attorneys represented Disney, and the CFTOD settled on a trial date of June 24 to settle the lawsuit.

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