Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was awarded more than $580,000 in damages on Wednesday from a neighbor who attacked him over a dispute involving lawn care.
A jury took less than two hours to deliver its verdict after hearing three days of testimony in which the senator said he feared for his life.
Paul’s neighbor, Rene Boucher, tackled him in late 2017 and broke some of his ribs. Boucher said he attacked the senator after watching Paul make a pile of brush near their shared property line. The day before, Boucher said, he had burned another pile made by Paul with gasoline, but it caused an explosion that burned him and left him in pain, according to The Associated Press.
Paul addressed the outcome on Twitter later Wednesday, saying the case was meant to send a “clear message that violence is not the answer.”
“This lawsuit wasn’t about me,” Paul tweeted after the verdict was announced. “It was about all of us and what we find acceptable as a society. … We can hold different views, whether it’s politics, religion or day to day matters.
He continued: “It’s never okay to turn those disagreements into violent, aggressive anger.”
Aside from the verdict, which included $375,000 in punitive damages and $200,000 for pain and suffering, Boucher served 30 days in jail after he admitted attacking Rand. He called the incident two minutes of his life he wished he “could take back.”
Paul drew some criticism earlier this month over his health care proposals after he traveled to Canada, which has universal health care, to get a hernia repaired. The senator paid out of pocket for the surgery, since he’s not covered by the system, but he drew some fire because of his history of labeling universal health care as “slavery” that conscripts physicians. He said the hernia was linked to the 2017 assault.
His spokeswoman, Kelsey Cooper, slammed the comparisons, saying the media coverage had been “terribly reported from day one.”
“This is a private, world-renowned hospital separate from any system, and people come from around the world to pay cash for their services,” Cooper said at the time.