Butler Wooten & Peak has filed a lawsuit in South Carolina federal court on behalf of a Georgia soldier who stopped a suicide bomber from getting into a crowd gathered for a road race at Bagram Air Force Base, Afghanistan, in 2016.
Army Spc. Winston Hencely of Effingham County near Savannah was 20 years old when he spotted a man wearing a bulky vest heading toward the assembly point for a Veterans Day 5K run, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Greenville Division.
The named defendant is a military contractor who the suit claims employed the bomber.
“Specialist Hencely saved dozens of lives by stopping the bomber when he did,” said James “Jim” Butler Jr. of Butler Wooten & Peak of Atlanta, Savannah and Columbus, lead counsel for Hencely. “The bomber was heading to the race assembly point, where a general and 200 others would be densely packed to start the race.”
Confronted by Hencely, the bomber exploded the vest, killing six and injuring 17 people. Shrapnel pierced Hencely’s skull and chest, causing severe injury and permanent disability, according to the lawsuit.
The defendant is Fluor Corp., a private military contractor headquartered in Irving, Texas, that has 56,000 employees worldwide, according to its website. The lawsuit identified the company’s principal place of business as Greenville. The company reported $20 billion in revenue for 2017, and on Wednesday announced a new contract for a chemicals project in Saudi Arabia with Halliburton.
According to the complaint, the suicide bomber worked for Fluor at Bagram Air Force base, and had been a known former member of the Taliban. The suit alleged that the Fluor employee built the suicide bomb vest while on the job, using company materials and tools, and that the company failed to supervise him and escort him off the base at the end of his shift as required.
“The Taliban subsequently boasted it was responsible for the bombing at Bagram Airfield,” the complaint said. “The projectiles that penetrated Hencely’s brain and chest were the property of Fluor—pieces of nuts and bolts the bomber obtained from Fluor.”
Asked to respond, a spokesman for Fluor shared a brief statement Thursday.
“We are aware of the complaint filed by Army Specialist Winston Hencely,” Fluor said. “Because of pending litigation, however, we will not be able to provide any additional information at this time.”
Fluor does not yet have counsel entered into the docket.
In addition to Butler, Hencely’s legal team includes: Jonathan Tonge and Michael Williford of Butler Wooten & Peak; Andrew Bowen, Paul Painter III, and Constance Cooper of Bowen Painter in Savannah; and Beattie Ashmore of the Beattie Ashmore Law Firm in Greenville.
“Hencely suffers from numbness and inability to fully use his left arm and hand, left leg, and left side of his face and mouth. He suffers from abnormal EEGs and has suffered seizures. He has neuropathic pain, cognitive disorder, chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety due to traumatic brain injury,” the complaint said. “Hencely’s short-term memory loss will never improve. He likely will never be able to cook for himself because he would forget that he put food on the stove. He likely will never be able to live alone and may require full-time live-in care for the rest of his life.”
The case is Winston Hencely v. Fluor Corp. No number has yet been assigned.