A Kentucky jury on Wednesday awarded Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, more than $580,000 in a lawsuit against a next-door neighbor who broke six of the senator’s ribs in 2017 over a long-standing landscaping dispute, The Associated Press reports.
Rene Boucher of Bowling Green, Kentucky, pleaded guilty to assaulting Paul in their Warren County gated community in March 2017. The 60-year-old tackled the second-term senator because Paul was stacking a pile of debris near his yard, according to court documents — a violent finale to a longstanding 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 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 reports, in addition to $7,834 for medical expenses.
Paul sought up to $1.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages, according to the AP, and testified during the trial that he had trouble breathing after being hit by Boucher with such force that both men traveled 5 to 10 feet through the air.
The senator also said 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 reports 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 Senator Paul would get a verdict in his favor,” Baker said. “This far exceeds anything that we were expecting.”