The judge assigned to the federal antitrust case against MasterCard and Visa said he is stepping aside, sending the potentially landmark litigation back to square one.

Less than a month after Milton Pollack, a senior U.S. district judge in New York, first met with the attorneys in the case and set a trial date of Oct. 29, 1999, he said this week that he would accede to a request from government lawyers who cited possible conflicts of interest.

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