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New York City's appeal of soda ban ruling to be heard in June

A 64-ounce drink is displayed alongside other soft drink cup sizes at a news conference at City Hall in New York, May 31, 2012. REUTERS/Andr
A 64-ounce drink is displayed alongside other soft drink cup sizes at a news conference at City Hall in New York, May 31, 2012. REUTERS/Andr

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The legal battle over New York City's ban of large sugary drinks is set to continue in early June, after a New York appellate court agreed on Wednesday to hear the city's appeal of a ruling that struck down the new law.

Hours after state Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling invalidated the ban in a last-minute decision on Monday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has made the ban and other health measures a cornerstone of his tenure, expressed confidence the ruling would eventually be overturned.

The city filed its intention to appeal on Tuesday, and the Appellate Division, First Department, a mid-level appeals court, said it would hear the case during the first week of June.

It is unclear if the issue will be resolved before Bloomberg leaves office at the end of this year, because the loser could seek to take the ruling on the appeal to the state's high court.

In a statement, city lawyer Fay Ng said the city was "gratified that the appeal will be given prompt consideration."

The ban, which had been set to take effect Tuesday, would have barred restaurants, movie theaters, food carts and other establishments from selling sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. The beverage and restaurant industries, along with other business groups, sued the city seeking to block the law.

Tingling ruled that the mayor-appointed health board had overstepped its authority when it passed the regulation without the city council.

He also criticized the law's loopholes, saying they made the regulation "arbitrary and capricious." The ban would have exempted businesses such as grocery and convenience stores and drinks that contain a significant amount of milk.

"We feel the justice's decision was strong and we're confident in the ruling," Chris Gindlesperger, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said in an email. "We respect the mayor's right to appeal."

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Leslie Adler)

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