A Kentucky jury awarded Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) more than $580,000 Wednesday in a lawsuit against his next-door neighbor, who broke six of the senator’s ribs in 2017 over a long-standing landscaping dispute, according to the Associated Press.
Rene Boucher of Bowling Green, Ky., pleaded guilty in March to assaulting Paul in their Warren County, Ky., gated community. The 60-year-old tackled the second-term senator because Paul was stacking brush near his yard, according to court documents — a violent finale to a long-standing dispute over lawn care. He admitted to the attack and told authorities at the time he’d “had enough.”
Boucher was found guilty of one count of assaulting a member of Congress and in June was sentenced to 30 days in prison. A mutual friend said the two men, both of whom are doctors, had argued over lawn care in the past and had not spoken in years.
Matthew J. Baker, Boucher’s attorney, said the attack was not politically motivated. Paul was awarded $375,000 in punitive damages and $200,000 for pain and suffering, the AP said, in addition to $7,834 for medical expenses.
Paul sought up to $1.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages and testified during the trial that he had trouble breathing after being hit by Boucher so forcefully that both men flew five to 10 feet, according to the AP. Boucher said the incident wasn’t the first time Paul had left debris near their property line and that on the day prior to the attack, Boucher had set fire to a brush pile with gasoline, causing an explosion that burned his face, neck and arms.
He was in “severe pain” from the burns during the next day’s assault, which Boucher called “two minutes of my life I wish I could take back."
The senator asserted he was afraid for his life.
“The thought crossed my mind that I may never get up from this lawn again,” Paul said.
On Wednesday evening, Paul wrote on Twitter: “We need to send a clear message that violence is not the answer — anytime, anywhere.”
The AP reported that Baker said his client plans to appeal, arguing that while Paul may deserve a “reasonable award” for his pain and suffering, no punitive damages should be awarded.
“We all expected that Sen. Paul would get a verdict in his favor,” Baker said. “This far exceeds anything that we were expecting.”