Federal Court Unseals Complaint Detailing Secret Plot to Damage Papa John’s Founder and Company Brand

(PRNewswire) The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky has ordered that an Amended Complaint filed by Papa John’s founder and former Chairman and CEO John Schnatter must be unsealed, revealing shocking details from the case for the first time.

The unredacted excerpts demonstrate how Laundry Service, a firm hired by Papa John’s to enhance its brand and that of the company founder, instead conspired to directly and willfully harm their image and brand.

According to the Amended Complaint, the details come from a “hot mic” conversation between the Laundry Service CEO, Jason Stein, and other firm personnel after concluding a conference call with Schnatter, in which the Papa John’s founder repeatedly expressed his disdain for racism. Clearly planning to reverse the meaning of Schnatter’s comments and expose a false version of them to the media, Stein and his colleagues discuss ways they can destroy the founder’s reputation and thus his namesake company’s brand, as reflected in the complaint.

In the conversation that was taped by a witness in the litigation, Stein said that he hoped “he gets f******* sent out to pasture on this s***.”

The plot was to use Schnatter’s statement “against him” and to schedule a “live interview with a hostile media personality and prompt Mr. Schnatter to make damaging statements which need ‘to be viral,'” according to the complaint.

“The chilling details from this taped conversation make clear the intent of Laundry Service to destroy my reputation, as well as the Papa John’s brand, harming our employees and franchisees in the process. A recent investigative report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh showed there was nothing racist in my words or actions on the conference call with our ad firm and also proves there has never been in my history. With this and the evidence coming forth in our litigation, it’s time for Laundry Service to be held accountable, and for Papa John’s to correct the record and apologize to me for validating the media frenzy that led to my forced departure as the company Chairman,” Schnatter concluded.

The unsealed evidence in the Amended Complaint will help prove through the litigation that Laundry Service violated its contractual obligations and acted against its responsibilities to help enhance Mr. Schnatter’s reputation and the company brand.