WASHINGTON: A jury in Kentucky awarded Sen. Rand Paul more than $580,000 in damages on Wednesday in a lawsuit that he filed against a neighbour who assaulted him as he did yardwork.
The neighbour, Rene Boucher, pleaded guilty last spring to felony assault after tackling Paul in November 2017. Boucher, who was sentenced in June to 30 days in prison, will appeal the verdict, said his lawyer, Matthew Baker.
“We can hold different views, whether it’s politics, religion or day to day matters,” Paul, R-Ky., wrote on Wednesday on Twitter after the damages were announced. “It’s never ok to turn those disagreements into violent, aggressive anger. I hope that’s the message from today.”
Boucher, 60, who had lived next door to Paul for 17 years at the time of the assault, claimed in court documents that he had festering irritation over the senator’s habit of stacking debris near the line that divides their properties. One day, when he saw Paul using a lawnmower to blow leaves onto his yard, Boucher approached him and tackled him.
The attack left Paul with broken ribs and caused a case of pneumonia, which kept the senator out of Washington for nearly two weeks.
Boucher, a retired anaesthesiologist who once invented a rice-filled vest used for back pain, claimed that he simply lost his temper and that it was not a political attack — an accusation that Paul and his aides have made.
“Any description of this attack that implies a ‘yard dispute’ justifies such violence and misses the point,” Sergio Gor, a spokesman for Paul, said in a statement last year.
The assault occurred in an otherwise peaceful, well-to-do neighbourhood. But Paul, 56, was known for his quirks as a homeowner, including growing pumpkins on his property and fertilising them with fish emulsion.
The decision Wednesday came on the third day of a trial in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where Paul lives and where the attack occurred. Paul and Boucher testified during the trial.
The total compensation was split into categories: $375,000 in punitive damages, $200,000 for pain and suffering and almost $8,000 for medical expenses.
In his lawsuit, Paul had sought up to $500,000 in compensatory damages and up to $1 million in punitive damages.