In litigation over a deadly food-poisoning outbreak traced to two turkey processing companies, a federal judge is breaking new legal ground by holding that the victims may use the alternative liability doctrine to pursue claims against both companies — without having to prove which one of the two caused their injuries.

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Savage issued the ruling in four consolidated cases against Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. and Jack Lambersky Poultry Co., whose ready-to-eat turkey products were deemed to be the only possible causes of the 2002 listeriosis outbreak concentrated in the northeast United States.

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