Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has requested a federal judge appointed by former President Donald Trump to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the state by Walt Disney World. This move is part of a push by DeSantis to protect businesses from COVID-19-related legal disputes.
The lawsuit, filed by Disney World in August 2020, alleges that the state of Florida violated its constitutional rights by preventing the company from enforcing its own COVID-19 safety protocols, such as mask mandates and social distancing measures. Disney argues that these measures are crucial for the protection of its employees and visitors.
Governor DeSantis, however, believes that businesses should have the right to enforce or lift COVID-19 guidelines as they see fit. In an effort to safeguard businesses against legal repercussions, DeSantis signed a law in May that limits the ability of companies, including theme parks like Disney, to face COVID-19-related lawsuits. The law grants businesses immunity from legal action as long as they make a good faith effort to follow government-issued guidelines.
DeSantis is now seeking the dismissal of Disney’s lawsuit, arguing that the state’s new law retroactively applies to claims filed before its enactment. To support this argument, DeSantis has requested U.S. District Judge John L. Badalamenti, appointed by former President Trump, to rule in favor of the state.
Critics of DeSantis and his handling of the pandemic assert that he is prioritizing the interests of businesses over public health. They argue that lifting safety protocols prematurely could lead to a surge in COVID-19 cases and put the well-being of workers and visitors at risk.
The outcome of this lawsuit could have significant implications for businesses’ ability to implement COVID-19 safety measures. If the judge rules in favor of DeSantis and dismisses Disney’s lawsuit, it could set a precedent that limits the power of private companies to enforce their own safety rules during public health crises.
This move by DeSantis aligns with a broader conservative agenda aiming to protect businesses from what they perceive as excessive government interference. It reflects a belief that the economy should be prioritized over public health measures, even as the Delta variant continues to spread and pose threats to the unvaccinated population.
As the legal battle unfolds, it remains uncertain how the court will ultimately decide. The case could have wider implications on the ability of companies to protect their employees and customers during public health emergencies. Advocates for public health caution that loosening safety regulations prematurely may lead to more outbreaks and hinder economic recovery in the long run.
Regardless of the outcome, this lawsuit highlights the ongoing tension between public health concerns and business interests. The case serves as a reminder that in times of crisis, striking a balance between these two is not an easy task, and it will likely continue to be a contentious issue in the months and years to come.