Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Florida’s Disassembly of Disney’s Special District

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Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Florida’s Disassembly of Disney’s Special District

By Movieguide® Staff

A federal judge recently threw out a lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that looked to halt his decision to cancel Disney’s special district privileges.

Florida announced that a new bill would disassemble previous rights granted to Walt Disney World Resort’s Reedy Creek Improvement District.

After backlash and a lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga labeled Florida’s decision as a state issue lacking grounds for a federal lawsuit.

“In Count I, Plaintiffs allege that Senate Bill 4-C violates Florida’s Reedy Creek Improvement Act and ‘contractual obligations’ the state owes to Floridians,” Altonaga wrote in a statement obtained by The Washington Examiner. “The Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ sole remaining claim for violation of Disney’s First Amendment rights. ‘[A] party generally may assert only his or her own rights and cannot raise the claims of third parties not before the court.'”

“None of Plaintiffs’ claims is ripe. Senate Bill 4-C does not take effect until July 1, 2022,” the judge added. “When a plaintiff files ‘a preenforcement, constitutional challenge to a state statute, the injury requirement may be satisfied by establishing a realistic danger of sustaining direct injury as a result of the statute’s operation or enforcement.'”

Movieguide® previously reported on Florida’s decision:

The Florida Senate recently passed a bill that would strip Walt Disney Co. of its tax privilege that currently allows the company to self-govern nearly 25,000 acres of land in central Florida.

The designated area, called Reedy Creek Improvement District, is home to the famed Walt Disney World resort, two water parks, and 175 miles of roadway. Previously, the Florida resort received relief from taxes and fees and earned special rights for future building projects.

Gov. Ron DeSantis encouraged legislation to look into the possibility of taking away Disney’s protections in the state of Florida, noting that he doesn’t “support special privileges in law just because a company is powerful.”

The 55-year-old Reedy Creek Improvement Act initially saw primary landowners—Disney—as self-governors of the RCID. This meant that Disney and not Florida outlined decisions regarding zoning, infrastructure, and building codes.

It remains to be seen how DeSantis’ apparent opposition to Disney will affect taxpayers living in the RCID. Some experts anticipate a steep tax increase for residents in the form of $1 billion of debt with little monetary consequence for Disney.