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The Mouse strikes back: Disney sues DeSantis, new district board over alleged retaliation

FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2019 photo, a statue of Walt Disney and Micky Mouse stands in front of the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2019 photo, a statue of Walt Disney and Micky Mouse stands in front of the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Disney is suing Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District over claims of retaliation.

The company is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief from the governor and his new state-appointed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board.

In the complaint filed in federal court on Wednesday, Disney alleges, “a targeted campaign of government retaliation.”

The company says this systemic retaliation has jeopardized its economic future and violated its constitutional rights.

Land use attorney Jacob Schumer said Disney has grounds to sue.

“Disney sued under a bunch of theories, the most high profile of which is the retaliation theory, which basically says that under the First Amendment, you can't pass a law punishing somebody or a corporation for speech.”

Schumer said he expects the lawsuit to be successful too.

“People all over the country had been saying that this was a possibility that Florida's action to dissolve Reedy Creek and now to take it over was retaliation," said Schumer. "And here, they're really, they're going after the whole thing. They're trying to get their district back basically. And I think they have a very good chance of winning.”

The lawsuit follows a heated few weeks that saw the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District replace and repeal the former Reedy Creek District and nullify any agreements the old board had with Disney.

Danielle Prieur is WMFE's education reporter.
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