Papa John’s founder, John Schnatter, sued the pizzeria chain on Thursday after stepping down amid the controversy of using a racial slur in a conference call in May. He said Papa John’s gave an insufficient response to an earlier request for internal documents.

He and his attorneys sought company documents to further investigate the accusations made.

“Mr. Schnatter’s attorneys are seeking to inspect Company documents because of the unexplained and heavy-handed way in which the Company has treated him since the publication of a story that falsely accused him of using a racial slur,” Schnatter’s attorneys said in a statement.


“Either the purportedly independent directors acted without adequate information and breached their duty of care,” or they “planned this coup in advance,” the complaint states, according to CNN Money. “Mr. Schnatter is entitled to determine whether his fellow directors have been grossly negligent or are acting in bad faith, or both.”

“Colonel Sanders called blacks n–––––s,” Schnatter reportedly said in a conference call.

He stepped down from the chairman position, but later said he regretted that decision.

“The board asked me to step down as chairman without apparently doing any investigation. I agreed, though today I believe it was a mistake to do so,” Schnatter said. “I will not allow either my good name or the good name of the company I founded and love to be unfairly tainted.”


He added, “Let me be very clear: I never used the ‘N’ word in that meeting as a racial epithet, nor would I ever.” However, he’s also admitted to using the word during the conference call.

The complaint has been filed in Delaware Chancery Court. In response, Papa John’s said in a statement that it was “saddened and disappointed” by the lawsuit, which it called “needless and wasteful.”

Additionally, the company seems to want to just distance itself from Schnatter at this point.

“We will not let his numerous misstatements in the complaint and elsewhere distract us from the important work we are doing to move the business forward.”


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