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Disney narrows lawsuit against Florida

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TALLAHASSEE -- Walt Disney Parks and Resorts moved Friday to narrow a federal lawsuit that alleges state officials unconstitutionally retaliated against the company because of its opposition to a 2022 law that restricted instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.

Disney attorneys filed a motion seeking approval to amend a lawsuit filed in April against defendants including Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The lawsuit came after DeSantis and Republican lawmakers this year approved a bill that replaced the longstanding Reedy Creek Improvement District with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

Disney was closely aligned with the Reedy Creek district, while the bill gave DeSantis power to appoint members of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board.

Disney alleges that the change was retaliatory in violation of the First Amendment and should be blocked.

The lawsuit has included issues stemming from development agreements reached by Disney and the former Reedy Creek Improvement District board.

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board and the Legislature took steps to void the agreements.

In seeking to amend the federal lawsuit Friday, Disney said it would drop the issues related to the development agreements and focus only on the retaliation issue.

At least in part, that is because Disney and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District also are battling about the development agreements in a case filed by the district in Orange County circuit court.

U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor on Friday denied the motion to amend the lawsuit for a procedural reason but said Disney can resolve the problem and refile the motion.

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