In November of 2017, retired physician Rene Boucher assaulted his neighbor, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and broke a quarter of his ribs — because he was frustrated with Paul’s lawn care regimen. Now, Boucher — who already served a 30-day prison sentence after pleading guilty to the felony of assaulting a member of Congress — has been ordered by a jury in Bowling Green to pay Paul $580,834 in damages.
The jury reportedly deliberated for less than two hours before awarding the noted libertarian with over half-a-million dollars in his civil suit against Boucher. Broken down, it looks like $375,000 in punitive damages, $200,000 for pain and suffering, and $7,834 for medical expenses. In addition to breaking six of his ribs, fluid and blood pooled around Paul’s lung, which reportedly led to pneumonia.
In his testimony, the Kentucky senator stated that he was picking up a stick in his yard when Boucher bum-rushed him with so much force that he claims the two of them flew through the air for five or ten feet. “The thought crossed my mind that I may never get up from this lawn again,” said Paul. Boucher apologized, and called the event “two minutes of my life I wish I could take back.”
But in a court filing from June 2018, a different story emerged — one in which repeat passive-aggression from the junior senator from Kentucky turned into a bizarre felony charge for a retired anesthesiologist. According to Boucher’s attorney, Paul had placed a pile of lawn debris on the border between their properties on the weekend of October 13, 2017. Boucher removed it, but Paul allegedly made a new pile in the same place the next weekend, and the weekend after that. On November 2, Boucher decided to incinerate the stuff, but “a fireball created from the burn caused [him] to sustain second-degree burns.” The next day, the pile appeared again, which prompted the 59-year-old to throw his Senator up to ten feet across his own lawn.
Boucher’s attorney, Matt Baker, announced that he would appeal the award, claiming that no punitive damages should be given, because Paul had returned to his “customary lifestyle” of golf and skiing after the assault. When asked if Boucher can pay the damages, Baker said, “We’re going to talk about that.” Meanwhile, Paul — whose net worth as of 2015 was over $1.3 million — wanted more, suing for up to $1.5 million in total damages from his retired neighbor. So did federal prosecutors, who appealed Boucher’s 30-day sentence, saying that 21 months would have been more appropriate.