Cole has deadline for answering PF complaint

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Jason Cole (Lebanon Voice file)

LEBANON - Former Planet Fitness payroll manager Jason Cole has two weeks to officially respond to the complaint filed by his former employer alleging he is holding hostage corporate information that could be injurious to Planet Fitness and Pla-Fit Inc., LLC, its parent company.

Cole was served with a temporary restraining order a week ago today, according to his attorney Paul Aranson of Sanford. The clerk's office at U.S. District Court in Portland on Monday noted that once served, a defendant has 21 days to answer the complaint.

Pla-Fit Franchise, LLC, employs all PF U.S.-based employees, including 172 at its Newington, N.H., corporate offices where Cole worked and 715 at another 56 clubs.

The 11-page complaint asks the court, among other things, to "permanently enjoin Cole and (live-in girlfriend Laura) Shaw from using or disseminating Planet Fitness' confidential information" and to return all company property, related hard-copy documents, any equipment capable of storing PF info and to award Planet Fitness damages and reasonable attorneys fees and costs and whatever other relief the court finds just and proper.

As detailed in the complaint filed Aug. 10, Cole, a former Lebanon selectman and assistant rescue chief, threatened company execs with what he considered "damning" information about the company he inadvertently received in an email mistakenly sent him.

Cole's threatening statements were allegedly made after he learned an acquaintance of his had been fired from the company and days before the fitness giant's IPO on the New York Stock Exchange.

The injunctive relief was sought based on three counts, including, in part, that Cole had breached his contract after signing security and confidentiality agreements, of converting confidential Planet Fitness property for his own personal use, and computer fraud and abuse.

The lawsuit claims Cole's actions have already cost the company in excess of $5,000 and that it will "continue to suffer irreparable harm and monetary damages" due to his actions.

If Pla-Fit Inc., LLC, wants to extend the temporary restraining order beyond the 14 days they will have to apply for another one, the court clerk's office noted.

Meanwhile, once Cole answers the complaint, either himself or through Aranson, a schedule of court dates and possible trial will be set by the court.

Both Aranson and Pla-Fit Inc., LLC lawyers have refused comment on the case.

To read an earlier Lebanon Voice story on the case that details information in the complaint click here.

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