On May 4, a lawsuit was filed against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on behalf of some taxpayers who reside in Osceola County and Orange County. The lawsuit claimed that Governor DeSantis had violated the rights of the taxpayers and would cause them financial injury with the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement Act. The Reedy Creek Improvement act allows Disney to act as its own government and, if dissolved, the costs typically incurred by Reedy Creek would be passed on to the taxpayers in the aforementioned counties.
When the lawsuit was filed, it was stated that the Plaintiffs in the case were not seeking monetary damages — they simply wanted to prevent the termination of the Reedy Creek Improvement Act. As quickly as the lawsuit was filed, it seems to have been dismissed just as quickly. On May 10, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit against Governor DeSantis.
The Orlando Sentinel reported on the dismissal, saying:
In her order, U.S. District Court Judge Cecilia Altonaga, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote that the suit was dismissed for several reasons, including the federal court’s lack of standing over state issues and because the law does not go into effect until July 2023.
Altonaga wrote that the three plaintiffs, Michael and Edward Foronda of Kissimmee and Vivian Gorsky of Orange County, “do not plausibly allege they have suffered any concrete injury as a result of the alleged violation of Disney’s First Amendment rights, and nothing in the Complaint shows Plaintiffs have a close relationship with Disney.”
The new law, she wrote, “does not apply to them, they do not allege direct harm as a result of the challenged law, and they do not plausibly allege any credible threat of direct harm in the future.”
Their claim to standing in the case, she wrote, was that the elimination of the district “might result in financial harm to Plaintiffs by virtue of a tax increase that has not yet been enacted. That indirect and highly speculative alleged injury cannot support federal jurisdiction. … Again — it is worth emphasizing — the bill does not apply to Plaintiffs at all.”
Although the federal judge has dismissed the original filing, William Sanchez — the Miami lawyer who filed the original suit on behalf of the Plaintiffs — said that this was only the beginning of a long fight. He said that he plans to refile the suit no later than Monday, May 16.
Florida law currently states that, if Reedy Creek is dissolved, its debts would be passed on to the taxpayers. Those debts are currently estimated to be over $1 billion. Governor DeSantis has told his constituents that they will not see an increase in their taxes if Reedy Creek ceases to exist, but he has not yet released details on how he will be able to circumvent the law.