Disney Files Counterclaim in District Fight

After an Orange County circuit judge last month rejected its request to dismiss the case, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has filed a counterclaim in a legal battle with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

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The district filed the lawsuit on May 1, arguing that development agreements reached by Disney and the former Reedy Creek Improvement District board are “null and void.” The agreements were approved shortly before the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board, appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, succeeded the former Reedy Creek board.

Disney back in Court

Circuit Judge Margaret Schreiber last month denied a motion by Disney to dismiss the case.

In the counterclaim filed Thursday, Disney made a series of allegations, including that the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District has breached contracts that Disney entered with the previous board. “The contracts are valid contracts and are binding on the (Central Florida Tourism Oversight) District,” the counterclaim said.

“Disney has fully complied with any and all of its obligations under the contracts and remains ready, able, and willing to perform. The district has repudiated its duty to perform under the contracts, including by declaring them void ab initio (from the beginning).”

The counterclaim was the latest chapter in legal and political battles that started last year when Disney opposed a new state law that restricts instruction about gender identity and sexual orientation in schools. DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Legislature this year created the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District to replace the Reedy Creek district, which had benefited Disney for decades. Disney also has filed a separate federal lawsuit that, in part, alleges retaliation by the state.

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