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Papa John's Founder Is Suing

John Schnatter wants corporate records
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 26, 2018 4:47 PM CDT
In this Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, file photo, Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter attends a meeting in Louisville, Ky.   (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

(Newser) – The founder of the Papa John's pizza chain filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking access to the company's books and records following his resignation as chairman earlier this month amid reports that he used a racial slur during a media training session, the AP reports. In a complaint filed in Delaware's Court of Chancery, John Schnatter accused 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. Instead of standing behind him and trying to explain what actually happened, the company followed "its usual, and flawed, manner of dealing with false and mistaken reporting," Schnatter claimed. Schnatter compared the board's request that he step down as chairman to its prompting of his resignation as CEO last year amid controversy over remarks he made regarding National Football League players protesting during the national anthem.

In the complaint, Schnatter says company directors either acted in a hasty and uninformed manner, thus breaching their duty of care to the corporation, or had secretly planned a "coup" in advance to oust him. "Either way, as a director of the company, Mr. Schnatter is entitled to determine whether his fellow directors have been grossly negligent or are acting in bad faith, or both," the complaint reads. Schnatter filed the lawsuit after the company rebuffed his July 18 request for a variety of documents, saying he was seeking to further his own self-interests, rather than the company's best interests. The documents Schnatter seeks include internal communications by directors, officers and attorneys relating to him from Oct. 31 last year through July 15, when a special committee was formed to address the Forbes article. Schnatter is also seeking documents relating to any allegations of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct by any board member or officer. Click for more, including the company's response.

(Read more Papa John's stories.)

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