By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Just when you thought you’d heard the last of the neighborhood dispute between Senator Rand Paul and his neighbor, the one that culminated in a criminal assault prosecution and conviction of Rene Boucher…
The dispute continues in civil court.
According to the Bowling Green Daily News, Paul sued Boucher last week, seeking compensatory and punitive damages and an injunction preventing Boucher from making contact with anyone in the Paul family.
That prompted a countersuit by Boucher, and a request to dismiss Paul’s complaints against him.
Boucher’s counterclaim once again points to the dispute over a brush pile near his property line. His attorney, Matt Baker, calls the violent attack an “isolated incident,” while Paul’s attorney, Kyle Bumgarner, claims Boucher’s behavior has amounted to “stalking and harassment.”
Boucher responds to Paul’s lawsuit
By JUSTIN STORY firstname.lastname@example.org Jun 27, 2018 Updated 20 hrs ago
Dr. Rene Boucher has formally requested dismissal of the lawsuit U.S. Sen. Rand Paul recently filed against him.
Boucher, who lives next to Paul in the Rivergreen subdivision, has pleaded guilty to assaulting a member of Congress, a federal offense, and is soon to begin a 30-day sentence in connection with his tackle of Paul as the senator was mowing his yard Nov. 3.
Paul, who suffered multiple rib fractures and contracted pneumonia following the attack, sued Boucher on Friday, requesting unspecified compensatory and punitive damages as well as an injunction that would forbid Boucher from having contact with Paul and his family.
One notable factor: Boucher intends to sue Rivergreen HOA for failing to enforce covenants and restrictions against Paul for accumulating a pile of brush in the first place.
And that highlights yet another disadvantage of HOA living. Every member of the association is exposed to being dragged into the middle of a controversy involving two neighbors.
The vast majority of modern HOAs are corporations that have the right to sue members or other third parties. That makes it convenient — perhaps a bit too convenient — for an HOA to sue one of its members for violating restrictive covenants or not paying assessments.
On the other hand, any member of the association, or other third party, can also sue the HOA. The HOA is seen as a defendant with deep pockets, especially if it’s a large association, or if its members happen to have high net worth.
Hopefully, Rivergreen HOA is adequately insured to cover its defense in this high-profile HOA war. If the lawsuit is allowed to move forward, attorney fees can add up quickly. The case might drag on for several years.
There’s no guarantee that Boucher has a solid case against the HOA.
In general, an HOA is not always obligated to intervene in a neighbor-to-neighbor dispute — it can exercise some discretion with enforcement, as long as it doesn’t engage in blatant selective enforcement.
Although it doesn’t have to, your HOA can fine you, or deny access to common amenities if you don’t abide by the agreement. But as a homeowner-member of the association, you can only attempt to sue your HOA for not upholding its side of the “contract.”
Forcing your HOA to enforce CC&Rs against one of your neighbors is no easy task, even if you think the HOA’s obligations are clearly written in the CC&Rs — the so-called “contract” to which all members agree to abide.
When it comes to disputes between neighbors, sometimes the HOA cannot win, no matter which stance it takes. Homeowner members lose, either way. They end up paying their share of insurance deductibles and higher premiums following a lawsuit — even if the association ultimately prevails in court.
So it begs the question: why even have an HOA?
Better to let feuding neighbors hash out their own differences in court, without dragging the entire community through the mud.