Carrie Rengers

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Hotel at Old Town sues two managers who left for positions at the Ambassador Hotel

06/13/2013 5:00 AM

06/13/2013 5:29 AM

WICHITA — The Hotel at Old Town has filed a lawsuit against former general manager Sheila Cole and former director of sales Amy Grossman, who now hold the same positions at the 6-month-old Ambassador Hotel.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed in Sedgwick County District Court on Tuesday, Cole faxed DeBoer resignations for herself and Grossman on May 30. The suit says Cole offered Grossman a job at the Ambassador and that Cole faxed a note that Grossman "accepted the challenge of helping turn the hotel around.”

The suit alleges breach of fiduciary duty, the destruction of evidence and the misappropriation of trade secrets, among other things.

"I think I was treated very poorly," says Jack DeBoer, the principal owner in the Hotel at Old Town. "I'm just protecting my asset. That's what my attorneys counseled me to do to protect it. So that's my story."

Neither Cole nor Grossman could be reached for comment.

The suit alleges that prior to her resignation, "Cole accessed her office computer and deleted significant portions of the Microsoft Outlook ‘In Box,’ deleted her ‘Sent Box,’ deleted her Microsoft Outlook ‘Trash’ or ‘Recycle Bin,’ and ran a program called CCleaner to erase the evidence of the ‘link files’ showing Defendant Cole's links to documents recently accessed by her. By running CCleaner, Cole also permanently erased the evidence of all temporary files and histories, the download history, and the evidence of what was downloaded to her Flash Drive and then erased from her computer and placed in the trash/recycle bin.”

DeBoer says he doesn't want to comment further on the lawsuit.

"I want to stay out of it."

The 82-year-old businessman has one thing to say, though.

"The only thing I can say is I've never sued anybody. How 'bout that?" DeBoer says. "I'm a lover, not a fighter."

In addition to the lawsuit, the Hotel at Old Town filed a motion for a restraining order to prevent the destruction of documents, such as contact information for customers, and the use of "trade secret customer information" in any form, whether that be on computers, smartphones or paper files.

The restraining order was granted on Monday.

While it's clear that DeBoer feels betrayed by his former Hotel at Old Town managers, he says his lawsuit is nothing personal.

"I've made it very clear to the people at the (Hotel at Old Town), this is nothing against the people involved," he says.

"The bottom line is this is not a vendetta against anybody."

Look for more information on the lawsuit later today.

About Carrie Rengers

Carrie Rengers joined The Eagle's Business team in 2002 despite her inability to even balance a checkbook. Fortunately for her, and readers, her Have You Heard? blog is about business scoops and contains lots of news but almost no math.

A Michigan native, Carrie’s father was quite tragically transferred to Little Rock, Ark., in the middle of her sophomore year of high school. To make matters worse, her parents put her in a girls school. She recovered, though, and went on to enjoy being an English major at Hendrix College (the Harvard of the Ozarks, don’t you know). She worked for the weekly Arkansas Business and the statewide daily Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before moving to Wichita to be with her favorite writer and cook, husband Joe Stumpe.

Carrie encourages readers to contact her with tips, questions, behind-the-scenes business news and even funny quotes from business people. Reach her at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com

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