Advantage DeSantis? Disney Case To Be Tried By Judge Who Once Dismissed Lawsuit Against Governor’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis holds a press conference at the Reedy Creek Administration Building in Lake Buena Vista. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) are locked in an acrimonious battle and recent developments may play out to the former’s advantage.

What Happened: Judge Mark Walker, who was originally presiding over the lawsuit filed by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts against DeSantis, recused himself last week citing conflict of interest, as one of his “third-degree” relatives held shares of the entertainment giant.

Incidentally, DeSantis’ lawyers had earlier clamored for disqualification of Walker on the grounds of prejudice

Judge Allen Winsor has now been appointed to handle the case.


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Who’s Winsor: Winsor is a U.S. district judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. He received his law degree from Auburn University and a Juris Doctor from the Frederic G. Levin College of Law.

Winsor was nominated by former President Donald Trump in April 2018. Following a hearing on May 23, 2018, held before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he was reported out of the committee by an 11-10 vote. His renomination was also shot down by a 12-10 vote. Subsequently, his nomination was put to a vote in the Senate and he was confirmed by a 54-44 vote, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) voting in his favor.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis takes questions from the media after signing three education bills on the campus of New College of Florida in Sarasota, Fla. on Monday, May 15, 2023. (Photo by Thomas Simonetti for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Positive For DeSantis? Winsor’s appointment could be positive for DeSantis, as in Feb. 2023, he issued a 21-page ruling dismissing a lawsuit that challenged Florida’s ‘Don’t say Gay’ law.

The law prohibits public school teachers from holding classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity for children in kindergarten through grade 3.

In his ruling, the judge wrote, “Plaintiffs have shown a strident disagreement with the new law, and they have alleged facts to show its very existence causes them deep hurt and disappointment. But to invoke a federal court’s jurisdiction, they must allege more.”

The Disney logo celebrating 100 years is displayed on stage during CinemaCon 2023 Disney studios presentation at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

Incidentally, opposition to the same law has landed Disney in trouble at the hands of Florida State and DeSantis. The state retaliated by revoking the administrative status Disney enjoyed in governing the land around its Florida theme park. Not to be cowed down, the company sued DeSantis, alleging witch-hunting.

What’s Next: After assuming responsibility for the lawsuit, Winsor said, in a filing on Friday, that DeSantis’ deadline to file motions to dismiss the case is June 26, 2023. Plaintiffs, i.e. Disney’s, deadline to respond to any motions of dismissal, is July 26, 2023. Defendants may reply no later than Aug. 9, 2023, he said.


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Disney ended Friday’s session up 2.46% at $90.77, according to Zenger News Pro Data.


Edited by Jessi Rexroad Shull and Virginia Van Zandt



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