Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has filed a lawsuit against the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) for allegedly violating Florida law and the state’s constitution by failing to preserve and provide public records. The lawsuit was filed on Friday, and Disney claims that the CFTOD has not complied with its legal obligations in this regard.
Disney has filed a request with an Orange County circuit court judge to schedule an urgent hearing. The purpose of this hearing is to declare that CFTOD is illegally withholding public records and to order them to promptly release all the requested records to Disney.
Earlier this year, the Florida legislature implemented a number of modifications to the special taxing district that used to be called the Reedy Creek Improvement District. This district is responsible for delivering government services to the Walt Disney World resort property.
In February, Governor Ron DeSantis made changes to the district’s board by appointing his own representatives, replacing those who were loyal to Disney.
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Disney has filed a lawsuit accusing CFTOD of not fully responding to its public record request, which was submitted on May 11.
The lawsuit claims that CFTOD is enabling District employees and board members to utilize their personal electronic devices, email, and messaging accounts for government-related tasks without implementing sufficient measures to guarantee the preservation and production of public records.
According to Disney, around 50 employees have left CFTOD since the appointment of the new board by DeSantis in February. The remaining employees are reportedly feeling exhausted and lacking confidence in the new administration.
The lawsuit states that as a result of this, there have been delays, improper preservation, storage, and production of public records, and unsupported claims of privilege and exemption from disclosure. These actions are in violation of the Florida Constitution and Florida’s Public Record Act.
Disney alleges in its complaint that CFTOD relies on its board members and employees, specifically District Administrator Glenton Gillian, to independently select text messages or emails that are relevant to public record requests, without any guidance from the District or any attempt to ensure compliance.
Disney has filed a lawsuit claiming that CFTOD did not properly preserve data from the personal devices of employees who left the company.
The CFTOD spokesperson has not yet responded to the lawsuit, which was filed just before the end of business on Friday, right before the start of the Christmas holiday weekend.
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