How much should it cost to tackle a U.S. senator and break half a dozen of his ribs? That's the question at issue in a trial that got underway Monday in circuit court in Bowling Green before Judge Tyler Gill.
The civil complaint pits U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Bowling Green, against his neighbor, retired anesthesiologist Rene Boucher, who admitted assaulting Paul in November 2017.
Boucher, 60, attacked Paul after cleaning up yard waste Paul had piled on their property line several times, only to see Paul starting another mess, the neighbor's attorney said Monday.
Paul, 55, pushed back strongly against the suggestion he'd done anything to prompt the attack, however, saying he never piled limbs or other waste on the property line.
Paul testified that when Rene Boucher tackled him Nov. 3, 2017, he immediately began having trouble breathing and, with Boucher still on his back, had the thought that he might die.
"The thought crossed my mind, 'I may never get up from this lawn,'" Paul told jurors.
Paul is seeking up to $500,000 in damages to compensate him for pain and suffering and up to $1 million to punish Boucher.
The issue is not whether Boucher attacked Paul, but how much Boucher should have to pay Paul.
Boucher pleaded guilty in federal court to assaulting Paul. He served 30 days in jail, paid a $10,000 fine and performed 100 hours of community service, according to his attorney, Matthew Baker. However, federal prosecutors are pushing for a longer sentence for him. Advisory federal guidelines called for a sentence of at least 21 months.
Paul's civil complaint is a separate case, but he said during testimony that he felt the federal sentence for Boucher was not adequate.
He said he sued because he feels Boucher deserves more punishment and also to deter violence by Boucher or others.
"You just can't let people get away with this kind of stuff," Paul said.