John Schnatter's Amended Complaint claims media group directly violated agreement to rebuild brand image, partial audio tape was leaked out of context to damage the founder
LOUISVILLE, Ky., Oct. 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Papa John's founder, John Schnatter, announced he is seeking to file an Amended Complaint detailing the previously disclosed revelation that Casey Wasserman, the CEO of Laundry Service's parent company, "told Papa John's then-CEO Steve Ritchie that he would 'bury the founder' (i.e., Mr. Schnatter) if Laundry Service was not paid $6 million." The proposed Amended Complaint also reveals that one of the Defendants, creative ad firm Laundry Service, was caught on tape, unbeknown to them, plotting to damage Mr. Schnatter's reputation. These actions were contrary to their contractual obligations at the time.
According to the proposed Amended Complaint, this ironic turn of events occurred when Laundry Service executives were caught in a "hot mic" moment as their private conversation about Mr. Schnatter was recorded. That recording reveals "internal discussions between senior Laundry Service employees (including [Jason] Stein, its CEO at the time)," which the proposed Amended Complaint describes as "shocking." It states that "there is no mistaking Laundry Service's ill-intent," revealing that the defendants plotted to "put Mr. Schnatter in front of a hostile interviewer in front of a live audience to make comments that would inevitably be misconstrued and used against him."
Subsequently, the comments from the secretly-recorded meeting that Mr. Schnatter had with Laundry Service on May 22, 2018, including comments by Mr. Schnatter when he had spoken out against the insidious effects of racism in society, were leaked and published by Forbes with the meaning of the comments reversed to damage the Papa John's founder. Mr. Schnatter suffered damages from this conduct, according to the proposed Amended Complaint.
The proposed Amended Complaint includes other shocking new details in the case, showing that Laundry Service violated its contractual obligations and acted against its responsibilities to help enhance Mr. Schnatter's reputation.
"This case has always been about seeking the truth of what happened to John Schnatter. He devoted 34 years of his life to building the company that was named after him," said Terence Healy of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, representing Mr. Schnatter.
The proposed Amended Complaint was filed partially under seal, but counsel for Mr. Schnatter is seeking to have it lifted by the Court. Laundry Service has filed a reply opposing the lifting of the seal. The proposed Amended Complaint includes claims for damages, to be determined at trial. Mr. Schnatter has previously announced that all net proceeds from this lawsuit will be donated to charity.
SOURCE John Schnatter