ORLANDO, Fla. – You likely know John Morgan from billboards across Florida or from his commercials featuring the popular tagline “For The People.”
You may not know that Morgan actually got his start in law following what he calls an “ugly legal battle” with Disney that involved his brother Tim.
“He was paralyzed out at Disney World and he was paralyzed on the water,” Morgan said.
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Morgan said his brother was not adequately compensated due to the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which happens to be locked in a political battle that could cause Disney to lose its special governing authority.
“The reason that his case, that he could never sue Disney World is because Reedy Creek was owned by Disney, so that was his employer and they had comp immunity so that Tim was never able to bring a lawsuit,” Morgan said.
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Morgan said the whole experience was a nightmare,
“Disney treated Tim terribly,” he said. “They just fought him like he was a combatant enemy, even on his comp benefits and I was 19. We were poor as hell, and here we were with my brother a C6, C7 quadriplegic with this gigantic company. And, then they finally said to him they said ‘Well we will put you back to work,’ so they could get out of paying him benefits. They said ‘We will make you an operator from 11 at night until 7 in the morning.’”
This experience steered Morgan’s career.
“When Disney was messing with Tim, I became as mad at Disney as Ron Desantis is at Disney and that was — those moments in my life — was my inspiration for becoming a personal injury lawyer. I said then and there that my life’s work was going to be representing people who were powerless, hopeless and helpless against big corporations like Walt Disney World. That’s all I’ve ever done. I’ve never applied for a job anywhere else. Everybody that knows my story knows this is the story. So, it’s been interesting to hear Reedy Creek’s name come up after all those years after Tim was hurt in 1977.”
When asked if he would like to see the RCID go away for good, Morgan said, “Well, you know, there have been so many changes in the guard out at Disney, but it wouldn’t bother me. It wouldn’t bother me to see Reedy Creek taken away, because when I think of Reedy Creek that’s what blocked Tim’s lawsuit was the comp immunity which was BS in itself. I mean they say we own the utility and so therefore Tim is part of that because Disney owns that.”
But, even if Disney ultimately did lose its special district Morgan said it likely wouldn’t have much impact on the company.
“When Chick-fil-a got into a big row with the gay community, they weren’t going to eat Chick-fil-a anymore. Well, you still can’t get into a Chick-fil-a. Chick-fil-a is just going gangbusters and I think Disney will too,” Morgan said.
News 6 reached out to Disney for comment on Morgan’s statements. Disney has not responded.
Not all of Morgan’s experiences with Disney have been bad.
He said he actually used to work at the theme park too.
“I started in the beginning as Fiddler Pig in the Big Bad Wolf unit. I was promoted to King Louis in Song of the South and because I was a great dancer, I was ultimately promoted to Pluto for the America on Parade in 1976,” Morgan said.
Since then, he has worked to create one of the largest law firms in the nation.
To learn about Morgan and how Disney influenced his career, check out Florida’s Fourth Estate. You can download it from wherever you listen to podcasts.
You can also watch Florida’s Fourth Estate anytime on News 6+.