The political tête-à-tête between the Walt Disney Company and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) has largely dominated headlines since it began, and there are no signs that it will be stopping anytime soon.
While Disney has just appealed the judge’s ruling in the federal case, the state case filed by the CFTOD has continued on with less fanfare. For reference, the CFTOD lawsuit came shortly after Disney filed a lawsuit against the Board and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with the Board officially filing its own suit in May 2023 and Disney filing a countersuit in August. But now, we have an update on the CFTOD’s case against Disney.
The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board’s lawsuit against the Walt Disney Company seems to be plagued by scheduling conflicts and other logistical hiccups, according to recent case documents.
Though Orange County Circuit Judge Margaret Schreiber has heard arguments from both sides, a ruling has yet to be made. The judge did, however, order both parties to submit proposed summary judgments in their favor.
At one point, CFTOD Administrator Glen Gilzean was scheduled to be deposed — but before he could, the court was advised he had retained separate counsel (apart from the Board’s lawyers) and would not be appearing for the deposition. This has yet to be rescheduled.
The court documents state that as District Administrator, Gilzean “is an important witness” and that Disney is prejudiced by not being able to obtain his deposition before the Company’s summary judgment opposition is due.
Apparently, the CFTOD has only produced 25 custodial documents regarding Gilzean and acknowledged that it has not searched for or produced the requested documents from Gilzean’s personal email or phone.
The documents allege, “WDPR (Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Inc.) has long suspected that the District has not been searching for or collecting documents from the personal email accounts or mobile devices of any custodian, including for the District Administrator, board members, or other key employees—despite WDPR’s discovery requests expressly contemplating their inclusion. See 1/22/24 Mot. to Cont. at 10–11. At the January 23 hearing on WDPR’s Motion to Compel, the District finally admitted it has not even begun searching for or collecting these documents. Nor did the District agree to start this process, instead suggesting the parties further meet and confer on the issue.”
Because of this, a six-month delay has been requested so that this can be resolved ahead of the summary judgment hearing.
In response, the CFTOD filed a Notice of Supplemental Authority indicating that the ruling in the federal case shows “the irrelevance of Disney’s allegations of retaliation.”
Keep in mind that Disney filed another lawsuit against the CFTOD Board in state court, alleging they are failing to provide public records that the company had requested back in May of this year.
Withholding public records is against Florida law and the state’s constitution, and Disney is suing.
Disney also claims that the CFTOD has been allowing its employees to use personal phones, personal email, and messaging to conduct government business, which has led to inefficient processing and the lack of public records being preserved or provided.
According to Disney, the district and administrator allow them to “self-select what documents they were willing to provide from personal devices including email and text messages– if those records had even been preserved in the first place.”
Stay tuned to DFB as we bring you more updates about this lawsuit and the other legal battles Disney is currently dealing with.
What do you think will end up happening with this suit? Tell us in the comments.