Court Hawk
Papa John's founder John-Schnatter wearing black suit and tie
Courier-Journal

Founder of Papa John’s Files Lawsuit Against Marketing Agency

Founder and former CEO of Papa John’s Pizza John Schnatter filed a lawsuit against Laundry Service, the advertising agency Schnatter feels is responsible for his demise.

Schnatter had previously filed numerous lawsuits against Papa John’s upon his departure but ended up settling out of court.

Schnatter Steps Down as CEO of Papa John’s

Last summer, Schnatter stepped down as the CEO of Papa John’s after reports surfaced that he had used a racial slur during a conference call with Laundry Service in May.

According to Forbes, “The call was arranged between Papa John’s executives and marketing agency Laundry Service. It was designed as a role-playing exercise for Schnatter in an effort to prevent future public-relations snafus.”

In November 2017, Schnatter had blamed the NFL and its players’ protests during the national anthem for the pizza chain’s financial shortcomings that year. Executive Editor of Restuarant Business Magazine Jonathan Maze reported that Schnatter said the NFL’s lack of leadership in regard to the protests “hurt PJ’s shareholders.”

Ad Agency Leaked Recordings of Racial Slur

A month before Schnatter’s conference call with Laundry Service, there was an alleged disagreement over the amount of money Papa John’s owed the ad agency for its services.

Once it was confirmed that an agreement could not be reached, the CEO of Laundry Service’s parent company Casey Wasserman threatened to “bury” Schnatter if he didn’t pay the agency $6 million.

Schnatter’s lawsuit claims that the agency leaked the recording of his racial slur—which he adamantly claims was taken out of context—therefore breaking the firm’s nondisclosure agreement with Papa John’s. Schnatter has stated that any amount won in the lawsuit would be donated to charity.

Schnatter’s Wife Files For Divorce

The same day Schnatter filed a lawsuit against Laundry Service, his wife, M. Annette Cox, filed some paperwork of her own. Stating that their marriage was “irretrievably broken,” Cox filed for divorce after 32 years of marriage.

According to the divorce petition, the couple had separated back in April, and Cox had bought a house in Prospect, Kentucky. Schnatter and Cox own several expensive homes, and the former CEO has a net worth of $500 million.

Although the couple has already had private conversations regarding how their estate would be divided, Cox still wants the agreed amount to be included in the official court documents.