By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
HARRISONBURG -- A Winchester area business owner filed for bankruptcy less than a month after losing a legal battle with Shenandoah University's hotel company.
George James Sempeles, of Belleview Avenue, Winchester, sought protection through a Chapter 7 voluntary petition filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Harrisonburg on Wednesday. Winchester attorney Marilyn Solomon represents Sempeles and filed the petition for personal bankruptcy protection on her client's behalf.
Sempeles owned Jimmy's Steak & Seafood Grill which operated in the Quality Inn building in the 1000 block of Millwood Pike in Frederick County from 1964 until he closed the family business Feb. 24, 2010. Sempeles then filed a lawsuit against Shenandoah Hotel Property LLC claiming the arm of Shenandoah University had breached its contract with the restaurant. Sempeles claimed Shenandoah Hotel forced him to close his restaurant after it suffered financial losses as a result of the college turning many of the rooms in the building into student dorms.
But a jury on Feb. 17, at the end of a five-day trial, sided with Shenandoah Hotel and found the defendant had not breached its contract. In addition to the verdict, the jury found Sempeles liable for $51,331 in damages the defendant incurred when the plaintiff closed the restaurant, removed equipment and caused the hotel company to renovate the space for use as a breakfast dining area.
Sempeles indicated outside the court he likely would not appeal the verdict.
The bankruptcy filing notes that Sempeles also owns Enrico's Subs and Pizza LLC, which has locations in the Winchester area.