NEW YORK CITY - New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson appeared in New York State Supreme Court yesterday to present his case against the city over its selection of Snapple as New York City's exclusive beverage vendor. Justice Richard Braun, who is presiding over the case, asked all parties to reconvene on May 27 at which time he will hear testimony.
In a victory for the comptroller, the judge will combine the two tracts of the comptroller's case: the Article 78 component that challenges the Snapple agreement and the declaratory judgment argument that addresses the overarching legal issue of whether or not intellectual property concessions have to be submitted to the Franchise and Concessions Review Committee.
"I think the judge realizes that this is an important issue that goes beyond this case and he is going to decide it as such," said Judd Burstein, counsel representing the comptroller's office. Because of the broader implications beyond the allegedly tainted Snapple agreement, Burstein anticipates the case will be decided on an expedited basis, perhaps as early as the oral arguments on May 27.
"We're very pleased that the judge has agreed to take this case off the conveyor belt, so to speak, and treat it as the serious case that it is," Burstein said. "What is at the heart of this case is not just Snapple, that's very important...but at the heart of this case is the role of the comptroller in protecting the people of the city of New York and ensuring transparency of process with respect to concessions."
Burstein said the fact that the judge is willing to accept an order to show cause on a summary judgment is unusual. "Bottom line we are pleased with today's actions and we are pleased that the judge has taken this action and I think it illustrates the import of both the issue at hand and of the challenge that we presented."
Separately, the comptroller's office informed VT that Snapple's parent company has hired a new ad agency, Cliff Freeman and Partners. Part of Comptroller Bill Thompson's objection to the Snapple contract relates to the fact that both New York City and Snapple's parent company, Cadbury-Schweppes, had relationships with its prior agency, Octagon Group.