DeBoer says he was close to settling lawsuit with former employees, but now that’s off

WICHITA — Hotel developer Jack DeBoer says he was close to settling the lawsuit his Hotel at Old Town filed against two former employees who left for the Ambassador Hotel, but he says that’s now changed.

“They’ve made an offer to settle, and finally I was ready to do it,” DeBoer says of his former general manager Sheila Cole and former director of sales Amy Grossman, who now have the same positions at the Ambassador.

The lawsuit, which was filed in June, alleges breach of fiduciary duty, the destruction of evidence and the misappropriation of trade secrets, among other things.

DeBoer says Cole has now hired his head of housekeeping, front desk manager and one other employee.

“Sheila to do that, it’s unconscionable,” DeBoer says. “Hell, the lawsuit’s still out there.”

That’s why DeBoer says he changed his mind about settling.

“I said, ‘To hell with it. Let’s leave it out there.’ People don’t think.”

Terry Malone, the attorney who represents Cole and Grossman, says he wasn’t aware DeBoer was ever close to settling.

“As is typical of all lawsuits, there has been some … settlement negotiation and discussion,” he says. “I’ve had no indication that they’re close.”

Malone says he has been dealing with DeBoer’s attorney and not DeBoer, but he says what’s been suggested in negotiations is that everything should remain confidential. He says that’s how he’d like to keep it.

To say much more, he says, “Frankly, I think it would be inappropriate.”

Malone says he’s not sure about other employees Cole may have hired.

Regardless, he says Cole has done nothing “that is wrong or in violation of any law or contract.”

“I do not know why he would be angry,” Malone says of DeBoer. “People change jobs all of the time.”

DeBoer says his employees didn’t want to leave.

“They came to us and said, ‘Look, we can’t say no. It’s a lot of money.’”

He says he’s not mad at his former employees.

“The employees, I love ’em,” he says of present and past workers, even if they now work for the competition.

“If they’ve got more money and a better job, God bless ’em.”

DeBoer says he’s tired of people not playing by the rules, though.

“They better quit playing with me,” he says.

DeBoer says he wishes everyone would do what he or she is supposed to do and nothing more.

“Life is really simple when you do that,” he says.

“But I don’t own the world.”