Judge Tosses Lawsuit From Disney Stockholder Backed by Conservative Law Firm, Finds ‘No Wrongdoing’

The investor sought internal documents from the company, claiming its directors acted on personal interests when rebuking “Don’t Say Gay” bill

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The Walt Disney Company will not have to turn over internal records to an investor who aimed to investigate potential wrongdoing by the company’s directors, a Delaware judge ruled Tuesday.

The lawsuit came after Disney’s then-CEO Bob Chapek criticized a Florida bill that censors discussion of anything related to LGBTQ issues or people in schools. Stockholder Kenneth Simeone, backed by a conservative law firm, to accuse Disney of mismanagement for starting a feud with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over personal beliefs.   

Judge Lori Will ruled that while the decision to speak out against the bill may have affected the company’s business, there was no evidence to suggest Disney’s directors allowed their personal beliefs to play a role in the company’s response to the bill. 

Simeone was represented and financially backed by the Thomas More Society, a non-profit law firm that has pushed conservative agendas through litigation in the past.

“The plaintiff’s counsel and the Thomas More Society are entitled to their beliefs,” Will’s ruling reads. “They are also entitled to pursue litigation in support of those beliefs. But a Section 220 suit, which is designed to address the plaintiff’s interests as a stockholder, is not a vehicle to advance them.”

Simeone filed suit in December 2022, nine months after Chapek called DeSantis to express concern over HB 1557, known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Disney, which runs the Disney World resort in Orlando, was put under pressure to publicly rebuke the bill. Chapek said he called DeSantis “to express our disappointment and concern that if the legislation becomes law, it could be used to unfairly target gay, lesbian, non-binary and transgender kids and families.”

In April, Disney filed suit against DeSantis, alleging the governor intentionally orchestrated measures to financially punish the company for speaking ill of the bill. Yesterday, DeSantis motioned for the lawsuit to be dismissed.

Disney did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.