Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference during which he signed a bill to protect the digital rights of Floridians, June 6, 2023 in Wildwood, Florida.
Paul Hennessy | Anadolu Agency | fake images
Lawyers for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suggested that a trial in DisneyThe civil lawsuit against him should be scheduled months after the November 2024 presidential election.
DeSantis asked for the trial to begin on August 4, 2025, more than two years after the company filed its complaint. But Disney maintains that it should start on July 15, 2024, according to a presentation in federal court in Tallahassee dated Tuesday.
If the court agrees with Disney, then the political retaliation case against DeSantis would go to trial on the first day of the Republican National Convention. The Republican governor is one of the top contenders for the party’s presidential nomination.
Disney declined to comment on whether the proposed trial date was a coincidence or a deliberate move. A DeSantis campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Disney’s lawsuit against DeSantis and other Florida officials is just the latest battleground in a long-running dispute between the state’s powerful governor and one of his top employers.
Shortly after Disney blasted the controversial state classroom bill derided as “Don’t Say Gay” by critics, DeSantis and his Republican allies turned to the special tax district that has allowed Florida’s Walt Disney World to self-govern so effective for decades.
In February, DeSantis replaced the district’s five-member board with his preferred picks. In March, those new members accused Disney of stripping them of their power by landing long-term development contracts shortly before they took office. The DeSantis-backed board accused the company of undermining its authority over the district and voted to void the contracts.
Disney sued, alleging a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” by DeSantis in response to First Amendment-protected speech. The company is asking the court to restore Disney World’s contracts and self-governing status. The board has countersued in state court.
The latest federal court filing, a joint briefing following a June 15 video conference between the parties to the case, came a day after DeSantis filed a motion to dismiss Disney’s lawsuit. His lawyers argued that he and at least one other defendant are “immune” from the lawsuit and that Disney has no right to sue them.
DeSantis’ lawyers argued in the joint brief that the pretrial discovery process, known as discovery, should be paused pending the outcome of the offer to dismiss the case.
Disney’s lawyers opposed that request. They argued that doing so will “cause substantial harm” because the alleged political retaliation against the company continues.
Lawyers for DeSantis and the other defendants said they believe it is “premature” to set a timeline for the case due to their pending efforts to dismiss the lawsuit. The lawyers proposed a timeline that would have the discovery process completed by January 3, 2025.
Disney suggested that process should conclude a year early.