A Centre County jury has ruled that the owner of a State College fitness center defamed the co-owner of another local gym.
In December 2012, David Corneal, a local attorney and owner of the North Club, 1510 Martin St., filed a suit alleging that two former instructors, Jinger Gottschall and Claire Colebrook, used the confidential list of members at his gym to draw members to a fitness center they planned to open.
A countersuit alleged defamation on the part of Corneal and, on Tuesday, the jury agreed and awarded $22,000 in damages to Gottschall and Fitology, the fitness center she runs at 542 Westerly Parkway.
Colebrook was not a plaintiff in the defamation countersuit, Gottschall’s attorney, Bernard Cantorna, said.
Because Gottschall also is a Penn State professor of kinesiology, after her departure from the North Club, Corneal sent an letter to the university, addressed to then-president Rodney Erickson, the head of the kinesiology department and other university administrators, accusing Gottschall of using her status as professor for personal gain and to “unethically” take business from the North Club, according to an email from Cantorna’s office.
Gottschall conducted a study at the North Club in 2011, which gave her access to the member list, according to the letter, which was submitted as evidence.
An investigation was conducted by the university that found the accusations to be unfounded, according to a press release from Cantorna’s office.
Corneal’s attorney, Devin Chwastyk, said there was no comment from his client.
“We’re evaluating our options,” Chwastyk said of the possibility of an appeal.