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DeSantis Board Requests Court Dismissal of Disney's Counterclaims in Contract Dispute

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DeSantis Board Seeks Dismissal of Disney's Counterclaims in Contract Dispute

The board appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to oversee Walt Disney World's special tax district has requested a state court to dismiss Disney's counterclaims in their ongoing contract clash. Attorneys for the district board argue that all of Disney's counterclaims fail as a matter of law, asserting that Disney's contracts are void under Florida law and have never had any legal force. Disney, however, denies the claim that the contracts are void. This filing comes after Disney, the defendant in the state-level case, took a proactive stance and sought damages against the governor's board members. The legal battle between Disney and DeSantis began when Disney publicly criticized the controversial "Don't Say Gay" classroom bill. In response, DeSantis targeted the special district that had allowed Disney to govern its Orlando-area theme parks independently for years. The district's name was changed, and its board of supervisors was replaced with DeSantis' own appointees. Both lawsuits revolve around development deals that Disney argues were made to safeguard its future investments in Florida amidst what it perceives as escalating retaliation from the state government. The DeSantis-backed board members nullified Disney's contracts, accusing the company of undermining their authority and rushing the deals through before the change in leadership. Disney filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming political retaliation by DeSantis and seeking a declaration that its contracts remain valid. The DeSantis board countersued in Florida state court, contending that Disney lacked authority to enter into the contracts and that the prior board did not provide proper notice. In response to Disney's counterclaims, the DeSantis board rejected all of Disney's affirmative defenses, alleging that Disney has "unclean hands" and is responsible for the invalidity of the agreements. The board argues that Disney should have known about the defects in the contracts and has a duty to ensure their legality. As of now, representatives from Disney and the new district board have not provided comments on the latest filings. The legal battle continues, and the outcome will have significant implications for both parties involved.

Conclusion: Implications for New Businesses Amid Contract Disputes

The ongoing legal battle between Disney and the DeSantis-appointed board provides valuable insights for new businesses, particularly those operating in politically charged environments or those subject to special tax districts.

Understanding Legal Obligations

The dispute underscores the importance of understanding and fulfilling legal obligations when entering into contracts. Businesses must ensure their contracts are legally valid and enforceable, and they should be prepared to defend their contractual rights in court if necessary.

Navigating Political Landscapes

Disney's clash with the DeSantis board also highlights the challenges businesses can face when navigating political landscapes. The controversy surrounding the "Don't Say Gay" bill led to a series of retaliatory actions, demonstrating how political disagreements can escalate into legal disputes.

Managing Public Relations

Finally, the public nature of this dispute emphasizes the importance of managing public relations during legal battles. Both Disney and the DeSantis board have been under public scrutiny, and their actions and statements can significantly impact their reputations. In conclusion, while the outcome of this legal battle remains uncertain, it serves as a cautionary tale for new businesses. It underscores the importance of understanding legal obligations, navigating political landscapes, and managing public relations effectively.
Story First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/09/07/desantis-board-hits-back-at-disney-in-legal-fight.html
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