Disney Countersues DeSantis’ Oversight District in State Court for Breach of Contract & Constitutional Violations

    Disney World has filed a required answer in the state-level case brought by Ron DeSantis’ Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD or District). In the response, Disney affirmatively denies many of the claims made by the District, and actually countersues the District on the basis of a Breach of Contract and violations of the Florida Constitution, among other things. The 55-page document was filed last night in the Orange County court system and is separate from the federal lawsuit that Disney brought against DeSantis, although the arguments established do mirror some claims made in the federal case.

    Central Florida Tourism Oversight District administration building

    The first 24 pages of the response are paragraph-by-paragraph responses to claims made by the CFTOD in its case against Disney. Disney largely denies the claims made or at least notes that they are legal arguments that Disney is not required to respond to because they would be sorted out in a trial. From there, Disney outlines twelve affirmative defenses before establishing a counterclaim against the District.

    Reading through the document, the high-level defense that Disney establishes is that the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) is essentially the same entity that is suing Disney – the CFTOD. Indeed, the legislative actions that allowed DeSantis control over the Board of Supervisors of the District did not go so far as to dismantle the RCID, but simply renamed the RCID to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and allowed the governor to hand-pick the Board of Supervisors.

    Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaking at the CFTOD admin building

    Critically, the 2023 District Charter that was drawn up by the same Legislators that sought to establish control of the RCID actually reaffirmed the existing contracts were valid. These are the same contracts that the Board of Supervisors would later declare void:

    All lawful debts, bonds, obligations, contracts, franchises, promissory notes, audits, minutes, resolutions, and other undertakings of the Reedy Creek Improvement District are validated and shall continue to be valid and binding on the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District in accordance with their respective terms, conditions, and covenants
    CFTOD establishing Charter

    One particularly interesting defense put forth by Disney is estoppel against the CFTOD from asserting that the Development Agreement and Restrictive Covenants (Agreements) are invalid. Having already established that the RCID and CFTOD are the same Plaintiff due to the fact that DeSantis and the Legislature didn’t actually dismantle the RCID and in fact established that existing contracts were valid, Disney is pursuing an estoppel. Disney says that the District (read: the Plaintiff) represented to Disney that it had the authority to enter into the Agreements and that Disney relied on that representation when entering into the Agreements with the Plaintiff.

    Essentially, while the CFTOD and RCID are presented in the media as a sort of before-and-after entity, they are legally the same entity. By legally being the same entity, the CFTOD cannot argue that it itself didn’t have the proper authority or procedural ability to enter into a contract due to estoppel. For context, estoppel is a legal principle that prevents a person or entity from asserting something that contradicts an action or statement from the past.

    Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors

    Following 30 pages of defenses, Disney then turns to the offensive, countersuing the District on nine counts, ranging from Breach of Contract to violations of the Florida Constitution. The Breach of Contract argument stems from the fact that the District has “repudiated its duty to perform under the Contracts, including by declaring them void ab initio”.

    Other claims in the countersuit mirror claims made by Disney in the federal case. Notably, in the federal case, Disney claims violations of the US Constitution, whereas in this state case, Disney makes claims utilizing the Florida Constitution. Disney makes the same arguments that actions taken by the District violated the Contracts Clause, Takings Clause, Due Process Clause, and Free Speech Clause of the Florida Constitution.

    In the countersuit, Disney asks a judge to declare the District’s Legislative Findings and Senate Bill 1604 unconstitutional, or at least an order enjoining the District from enforcing them.

    The filing by Disney came on the last day of an order from the judge requesting a response. Further timelines in the state-level case in question have not been establishes.

    As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to bring you the latest news, photos, and info from around the Disney Parks!

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    2 COMMENTS

    1. Ah yes, the constitutional right to operate your own defacto government with special privileges no other company enjoys. Disney … take the L and move on. This is sad and pathetic now

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