Disney Scores Major Legal Victory in "Don't Say Gay" Law Battle against Florida Governor; DeSantis Now Wants Trial Delay

  • by:
  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 06/29/2023
With a significant victory in a "Don't Say Gay" law investor lawsuit, The Walt Disney Company has fired a shot across the bow of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's campaign against the House of Mouse.

Disney's opposition to the Parental Rights in Education Act, also known as the Don't Say Gay law, which was enacted by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in March 2022, was deemed to not have been negligent by Judge Lori Will of the Delaware Court of Chancery on June 27.

According to Will, there was no proof that Disney's response to the Don't Say Gay law was "grossly negligent or acted in bad faith" or that it "suffered from disabling conflicts." Since Disney investor Kenneth Simone's attorney serves as a special counsel for the Thomas More Society, she claimed that the lawsuit benefited the conservative non-profit law firm Thomas More Society, which was footing the bill for Simone's legal fees.

"The Thomas More Society and the plaintiff's attorney have a right to their opinions. However, a Section 220 lawsuit—which is intended to address the plaintiff's stockholder interests—is not the appropriate means of advancing those interests, according to Will. 

After the Walt Disney Co. (DIS) - Get Free Report responded to the Don't Say Gay law, which Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law in March 2022, Simone filed a lawsuit against the company in December 2022 in the Delaware Court of Chancery, claiming that the House of Mouse "created far-reaching financial risks" for the business.

Simone requested internal Disney records in his lawsuit regarding Disney's response to the Don't Say Gay Bill.

In court documents, Simone stated that "Disney's actions have had immediate and severe financial repercussions, harming the company and its stockholders." DeSantis had previously warned Disney that publicly opposing the law could result in dire consequences, but Disney disregarded his advice.

After then-CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against HB 1557's Don't Say Gay legislation just weeks before the governor signed it into law in March 2022, DeSantis declared war on Disney. The legislation was approved by the Florida House of Representatives in February 2022, the State Senate in March 2022, and the Governor in April 2022. On July 1st, 2022, the law went into effect.

In response to Disney's opposition to the Don't Say Gay law, the Republican governor later signed a bill dismantling Disney's Reedy Creek Improvement District, which controlled the infrastructure, building codes, and taxes in the Lake Buena Vista, Florida, area. This was part of the governor's war on woke. 

Due to DeSantis's action, Disney CEO Bob Iger threatened to reevaluate plans to spend $17 billion on projects at the Disney World Resort and canceled a $1 billion headquarters project in Florida.

In court, Disney has also fought back against DeSantis. The business accused DeSantis and a five-member board that took over the Reedy Creek board of targeting it in a campaign of retaliation and using government power against Disney, which it called "patently retaliatory, patently anti-business, and patently unconstitutional."

The company filed a lawsuit against them in April in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. On June 26, DeSantis submitted a motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought against him.

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