Papa John's founder launches bitter lawsuit against Wasserman Media over race row

09 Décembre, 2019, 07:12 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Papa John’s founder John Schnatter and his wife are calling it quits

A few months later, Forbes revealed that Schnatter had used the N-word on a phone call with a marketing agency, while trying to fix the brand.

Schnatter, who was ousted past year when the comments became public, claims they were taken out of context and that he had been criticizing a well known public figure for using a racial slur, according to a lawsuit he said he filed Thursday in state court in Kentucky.

Schnatter contends that the May 2018 exchange, preserved in a secretly recorded conversation, documented his criticism of a third party over their use of the racial slur and was taken out of context by the ad firm as part of a dispute over $6m in unpaid fees.

Jo Hardy, a Wasserman spokeswoman, didn't immediately return a call or email for comment Thursday on Schnatter's suit. The recording of the call proves Schnatter said that he himself "never used that word", which contrasts sharply with the false narrative reported in Forbes.

Since he's been gone, according to Schnatter, the quality of the food at Papa John's has gone down the tube.

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The complaint also highlights a commercial dispute between Laundry Service and Papa John's global in which Wasserman CEO Casey Wasserman is alleged to have told Papa John's former CEO Steve Ritchie that he would "bury the founder" if Laundry Service was not paid $6 million. It was after that comment was made, Schnatter alleges, that excerpts of the media training call were allegedly leaked to Forbes.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from Laundry Service over the result of that leak, which led to the end of Schnatter's role with the Louisville, Ky. -based pizza chain. Papa John's, which is not named in the suit, declined to comment. He is now suing advertising firm Laundry Service, and its parent company, over what he says was leaked audio from a May 2018 meeting that sparked his downward spiral with Papa John's.

Despite his loss of leadership at Papa John's, Schnatter is still quite wealthy, with an estimated net worth of $500 million. At the time, Papa John's was the official pizza of the NFL. As fewer viewers saw the ads amid declining viewership, Papa John's sales declined. Schnatter asserts in the lawsuit that he did not take a side in the protests.

In the lawsuit, Schnatter says he used the N-word during the conference call to complain about Sanders' use of the term, and how he was able to "get away with it", while Schnatter was heavily criticized for using the word "debacle" to describe the anthem protests.

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