A $23.6 bil­lion jury ver­dict on Friday against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. RAI –1.82% rep­re­sents the latest in a string of blows against the tobacco industry in Florida, the last major hub of tobacco lit­i­ga­tion in the U.S.

The award is almost cer­tain to be cut down sig­nif­i­cantly either by the judge in the case or on appeal, legal experts said. Still, the ver­dict sends a mes­sage to the industry that the public con­tinues to find it respon­sible for smoking-​​related ill­nesses and deaths.

There are real risks for the industry here,” said Richard Day­nard, a law pro­fessor at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity who chairs the school’s Tobacco Prod­ucts Lia­bility Project. “There’s pre­sum­ably nothing about this case that is so spe­cial that it couldn’t be repli­cated in many cases in the future.”

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