Disney seeks delay in federal appeal over legal battle with DeSantis, oversight board

After reaching a settlement last month in a related state-court case, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts asked a federal appeals court for a delay in a legal battle against Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District on Friday. 

Disney went to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor dismissed a lawsuit in January alleging that the state unconstitutionally retaliated against the company because of its opposition to a controversial education law. 

However, in the filing Friday, Disney asked for a 60-day extension in submitting an opening brief to "facilitate" negotiations. It said such negotiations were contemplated in a settlement that Disney reached last month with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District in a state-court case in Orange County. 

The lawsuits were rooted in a decision last year by DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Legislature to replace the former Reedy Creek Improvement District with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. The decades-old Reedy Creek district was closely aligned with Disney, while DeSantis appointed the new district’s board. 

The district provides many local government services in an area that includes Disney properties. In the federal lawsuit, Disney has alleged retaliation because it opposed a 2022 law that restricted instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. 

The settlement in the Orange County case included issues related to development agreements that Disney reached with the Reedy Creek Improvement District board before the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board took over. 

The filing Friday said Disney’s opening brief is due April 17 at the Atlanta-based appeals court. Disney is seeking to push back the deadline to June 17.