To Top

Not Going Down Without a Fight! Papa John’s Ousted Founder Files Explosive Lawsuit Against Ad Agency

Papa John’s may be famous for its freshly made thin-crust pizzas available in thousands of franchises spread across the globe but the food chain the brainchild of one pizza connoisseur and the founder himself, John Schnatter, who has recently come into the limelight for his eyebrow-raising remarks.

The man behind the famous company has been at the heart of intertwining controversies that led to a string of complicated, and often costly, lawsuits.

Papa John’s Consecutive Controversies

Papa John’s is known for many flavors of its pizza

Last year, John stepped down from his position as CEO after his statements prompted a backlash. Months later, a leaked recording of a conference call between his company and an advertising agency, Laundry Service, started making rounds on the internet.

In May last year, Laundry Service and Papa John’s held a conference to avoid another one of John’s then biggest snafu, a controversial statement in November 2017 about a debate in the NFL.

The recording revealed a harrowing statement from the disgraced man himself. He also blamed the association for the low sales of his company — the public lambasted the man of his remarks.

So during the meeting, the official was asked about how he would separate himself from hateful and racist online groups. The answer to this was supposed to be antipathy to the concern but some attendees found the comments quite offensive. Little did John know that the conference was being recorded. After this, Laundry Service cut ties with Papa John’s.


After being ousted, John admitted his wrongdoing and later filed a couple of lawsuit against Papa John’s, but the legal battles ended when both parties settled. However, it seems that the man is not going anywhere without a fight.

His eyes are now set on Laundry Service because he filed a case against the firm, claiming he was unaware that the May 2018 conference call was being recorded.

John also stated that there was already a rift between his company and the agency as early as June last year because of the issue of alleged unpaid media buying services it performed for Papa John’s.

John was secretly recorded during a conference in May 2018

According to the lawsuit, Casey Wasserman of Wasserman Media, which handles Laundry Service, threatened Steve Ritchie, the then-CEO of Papa John’s, that the founder will be buried if the firm didn’t receive its $6-million payment.

It also argues that the ad agency breached the contract because it released parts of the conversation to Forbes, which was the first to publish the sensitive slurs aired by John.

The lawsuit said there was a nondisclosure agreement between the two companies. Meanwhile, John insisted that the leaked clip was taken out of context and was used to fabricate a story that would put him in a bad light. He is asking for an undisclosed amount in damages, which he said will be given to charity.

Different Taste

John said Papa John’s pizza changed the recipe

Prior to this not-so-surprising turn of events, John hinted in an interview that the reckoning was coming soon. Adding more fuel to the fire, the former Papa John’s official said that the pizza doesn’t taste the same after eating 40 boxes in one month.

More in Criminal Attorney