ALBANY, New York (Reuters) - New York state's highest court agreed on Thursday to hear Mayor Michael Bloomberg's appeal of a decision striking down a ban on large sugary drinks, setting up the final showdown over one of the outgoing mayor's most controversial policies.
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The Court of Appeals did not say why it had agreed to hear the appeal.
The law would have barred restaurants, movie theaters, food carts and other businesses regulated by the city's health department from selling sodas and other sugary beverages larger than 16 ounces (473 ml). In March, just one day before it was to take effect, a state judge found the policy to be illegal.
A mid-level state appeals court agreed in July that the city's mayoral-appointed health board had exceeded its authority when it approved the new regulation. It also noted that loopholes would have exempted grocery and convenience stores, such as 7-Eleven, known for its 64-ounce (1.9 liter) Big Gulp, as well as high-calorie milkshakes and coffee drinks, such as Starbucks Frappuccinos.
The ruling was a victory for companies including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple, which had argued that the law would do little to address obesity while imposing unnecessary costs. The restaurant industry and several business groups also had filed papers in support of the lawsuit.
City officials did not return a call seeking comment, nor did the American Beverage Association, the lead plaintiff in the case.
The city had argued that the lower appeals court had ignored decades of case law establishing that the health board has unique powers to regulate public health.
"(The Court of Appeals) has long recognized that the board of health is not a typical administrative agency, but rather, is an entity with legislative authority," city lawyer Fay Ng wrote.
During his three terms, Bloomberg has made public health a signature issue, prohibiting smoking in restaurants, bars and parks; banning trans fats; and requiring chain restaurants to post calorie counts.
(Editing by Scott Malone and Gunna Dickson)
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