Avera & Smith secures $34M in damages from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

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An Alachua County jury returned a verdict for damages of $34.7 million against the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in its responsibility for the death of a Gainesville man in 1994.

According to an Avera & Smith law firm press release sent Tuesday, the eight-member jury decided on April 11-12 for Dixon’s widow and two children to receive total damages of $34,723,176.

The case was first tried in 2018 and 2019 but was reversed on appeal. The Gainesville-based Avera & Smith law firm, with support from the Milton, Leach, Whitman, D’Andrea & Eslinger law firm in Jacksonville, represented the Dixon family.

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Tyrone Dixon, who started smoking at age 11 or 12 while growing up in Milton, Florida, contracted laryngeal cancer and died in 1994 at the age of 38 as a result of his addiction to cigarettes containing nicotine, according to the release. Dixon attempted, and failed, several times to quit smoking until shortly before his death.

The jury awarded Dixon’s widow $500,000 and his children, Bianca Dixon and Tyrone Dixon Jr., $170,000 each for the loss of support and services. The jury awarded pain and suffering damages to Dixon’s widow for $4,045,000 and each child received $2,045,000. Punitive damages were warranted against R.J. Reynolds for $25,748,176.

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