Disney Seeks Confidentiality for Trade Secrets in Lawsuit Against DeSantis Appointees

Disney Seeks Confidentiality in Legal Battle with DeSantis Appointees

ORLANDO, Fla. – In an ongoing state court dispute over control of the governing district at Walt Disney World, Disney has requested a protective order to maintain the confidentiality of any proprietary information or trade secrets that may arise. The entertainment giant is seeking permission to designate documents and depositions as confidential, while also requiring parties involved to sign nondisclosure agreements.

Disney’s request comes as the litigation is expected to involve the disclosure of sensitive information, including trade secrets, technical details, financial data, and personal information. The company argues that public exposure of such information could lead to “significant harm.” Notably, the DeSantis appointees did not oppose this request from Disney.

For over five decades, Disney supporters had managed the district, which provides essential municipal services like firefighting, planning, and mosquito control. However, control of the district’s board was transferred from Disney supporters to DeSantis appointees through legislation passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Governor Ron DeSantis last year.

Disney alleges that this transfer of control was a retaliatory measure in response to the company publicly opposing the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. The controversial 2022 law prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades and was championed by DeSantis, who had previously criticized Disney during his campaign for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination before suspending his campaign.

Prior to the shift in control, Disney supporters on the board had signed agreements with the company, granting Disney control over design and construction at Disney World. The new DeSantis appointees argue that these last-minute agreements undermined their authority, leading the district to file a lawsuit against Disney in state court in Orlando, seeking to invalidate the contracts.

In response, Disney has filed counterclaims, including a request for the state court to affirm the validity and enforceability of the agreements. Additionally, Disney had also filed a separate federal lawsuit against DeSantis and his appointees, alleging violations of the company’s free speech rights. However, a federal judge in Tallahassee recently dismissed the federal lawsuit, citing a lack of standing and merit.

Disney is currently appealing the federal court’s ruling.

Follow Mike Schneider on X: @MikeSchneiderAP.
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