By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
According to several reports, a jury took less than two hours to decide on its award in favor of Senator Rand Paul, in his civil lawsuit against HOA next door neighbor Renee Boucher.
Boucher violently attacked Paul, in his own back yard, in November 2017. The next door neighbor’s assault broke six of Paul’s ribs. Those injuries and medical complications caused the Senator to miss several weeks of work in Congress during his recovery.
The jury’s award against Boucher is huge.
Sen. Rand Paul awarded over $580G after he was attacked by neighbor
By Nicole Darrah | Fox News
Sen. Rand Paul was awarded over $580,000 in damages by a Kentucky jury on Wednesday after he was attacked by his neighbor in the fall of 2017.
Paul, R-Ky., was awarded $375,000 in punitive damages and $200,000 for pain and suffering, plus $7,834 for medical expenses.
The lawmaker was violently attacked by his neighbor, Rene Boucher, in November 2017 while he was mowing his lawn. Paul was tackled from behind and suffered six broken ribs, including three displaced fractures. His recovery was complicated by fluid and blood around the lungs and recurrent pneumonia.
According to an AP report, Boucher’s attorney, Matt Baker, plans to appeal the amount of the award.
In the criminal case, Boucher pled guilty to assaulting a member of Congress, and served a 30-day prison sentence. He also paid a $10,000 fine.
Federal prosecutors are appealing Boucher’s light sentence, which they say is inappropriate.
The HOA connection
In a previous post, I examined the HOA connection to the violent attack on Sen. Rand Paul.
It turns out that recent jury testimony from Boucher confirms what many already know. Some owners of property in deed restricted communities take HOA rules and standards of appearance way too seriously.
Boucher explained he was angry that Paul accumulated a brush pile near his property line. In fact, the sight of landscape debris bothered him so much that, the day before the attack, he set the brush pile on fire. Boucher even burned himself in his haste to get rid of what he considered an eyesore.
So the next day, when he noticed Paul get off of his riding mower to pick up a tree limb, Boucher’s anger pushed him over the edge. In a flash, Paul was attacked from behind, and knocked to the ground, in severe pain from his injuries.
What was behind the attack – politics or something else?
Some people say that Boucher’s behavior was politically motivated. They can hardly believe that someone would get so bent out of shape over a pile of brush.
But I can tell you, after following HOA sagas and disputes for more than 7 years, that some homeowners can be downright obsessive about maintaining a pristine view in every direction.
In my observation, a small, but significant percentage of homeowners buy into the unrealistic-but-heavily-promoted promise that someone from the HOA will see to it that rules and high standards are enforced. Perfectionist homeowners count on the HOA to confront their imperfect neighbors, so they don’t have to put themselves in the awkward, uncomfortable position of complaining face-to-face.
In HOAville, it’s just not “cool” to actually talk to your neighbor about whatever they are doing that bugs you.
But when the HOA dismisses a homeowner complaint as trivial, or decides not to enforce the rules for other reasons, some homeowners feel entitled to engage in vigilante justice.
Make no mistake: the HOA governance system nurtures an environment of neighborhood conflict between residents who feel entitled to the “perfect” image for their community, and residents who just want to use their property as they see fit, and be left alone.
That simmering conflict tends to breed intense dislike and avoidance of neighbors, especially if they disagree on other issues, including politics.
‘Violence is not the answer’
Within minutes of the jury’s verdict, Sen. Paul posted on Twitter:
This lawsuit wasn’t about me. It was about all of us and what we find acceptable as a society. We need to send a clear message that violence is not the answer – anytime, anywhere.
We can hold different views, whether it’s politics, religion or day to day matters.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 30, 2019
Well said, Senator Paul.
Unfortunately, in hundreds of thousands of association-governed, common interest communities in the U.S., the emphasis on conformity to petty rules and standards in HOAville breeds a whole lot of intolerance for different points of view.
With painfully obvious results.
Sen. Rand Paul awarded more than $580K after neighbor’s attack
Associated Press/New York Post, Jan. 30, 2019
Rand Paul awarded over $580,000 in lawsuit against neighbor who assaulted him
By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN Updated 7:15 AM ET, Thu January 31, 2019
Jury Awards Sen. Rand Paul More Than $580,000 In Damages After Attack By Neighbor
January 30, 2019, Richard Gonzales, NPR (WBUR)