An Oklahoma jury that awarded nearly $25.6 million to a man who blamed his wife’s death on Aetna Insurance for failing to cover a particular type of cancer treatment was, in the words of the plaintiff’s lawyers, sending a resounding “message” to the insurer about the way it does business.

But last week’s award, which included $10 million in punitive damages and was issued by a 9-3 vote, as allowed under Oklahoma law, is also likely to set up an appellate battle on a number of issues, not the least of which is whether state law allows for such a recovery.

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