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John Schnatter, estranged founder of Papa John’s, sues company


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By RJ Saunders

Things are getting a tad bit saucy for the Papa John’s pizza chain.

Papa John’s founder John Schnatter has taken his former company to court after being asked by the company to step down as chairman earlier this month.

Schnatter is suing the company to retrieve documents and records. According to the filing, Schnatter is accusing Papa John’s International Inc. of treating him in an “unexplained and heavy-handed way” after Forbes published a July 11 article that he says falsely accused him of using a racial slur during a training session.

His lawyers claim that Papa John’s has been trying to distance themselves from Schnatter for quite a while, dating back to when the National Football League dropped Papa John’s as a sponsor after Schnatter’s comments on the players’ protest. Schnatter stepped down as CEO in January after making those comments.

Schnatter believes that these documents will help clear his name and give clarity to what he meant from his statements on the protest, as well as relieve him from the PR nightmare he is now in.

Papa John’s, however, has taken very little time to put the finishing toppings on their relationship with Schnatter.

The company has decided to take a measure called a “poison-pill” plan, with the end game being to prevent Schnatter from gaining a more controlling stake in the company, remove him from their commercials and marketing materials and have kicked him out of their office space at their headquarters in Louisville, KY.

As of March, Schnatter owns a 29 percent stake in the company according to regulatory filings, and is still a member of the board.

As far as the lawsuit goes, the company stated the following:

“We are saddened and disappointed that John Schnatter has filed a needless and wasteful lawsuit in an attempt to distract from his own words and actions.”


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