Papa John's founder John Schnatter sues his pizza chain

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 31: John H. Schnatter, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Papa John's International, Inc. rings the NASDAQ Opening Bell at NASDAQ MarketSite on January 31, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)

The founder of Papa John's pizza is suing for access to the company's books and records after he resigned this month after admitting using a racial slur during a media training session.

Posted: Jul 26, 2018 7:57 PM

DOVER, Del. (CBS NEWS) - The founder of Papa John's pizza is suing for access to the company's books and records after he resigned this month after admitting using a racial slur during a media training session.

In a complaint filed Thursday, John Schnatter says he wants access to the documents because of the "unexplained and heavy-handed way" that Papa John's has treated him.

The court filing comes as the company tries to distance itself from Schnatter, who resigned as chairman after Forbes published a July 11 article about the alleged slur.

The ensuing uproar led business partners of Papa John's to distance themselves from the company, while colleges associate with Schnatter also cut ties. That included the University of Louisville announcing that the school's football stadium would no longer carry the Papa John's name.

Schnatter says he has been falsely accused, and calls his resignation a mistake.

In a July 14 letter to members of the pizza chain's board, Schnatter denied using the "N-word" in a deliberately derogatory way during a May 22 diversity training session held with the Laundry Service, an marketing firm used by Papa John's.

"Let me be very clear: I never used the 'N'-word in that meeting as a racial epithet, nor would I ever," he said in the letter.

The company has adopted a "poison-pill" plan to try to prevent Schnatter from amassing a controlling stake. He is still a member of the board, and as of March held 29 percent of Papa John's shares, according to regulatory filings.

Schnatter has hired Los Angeles trial attorney Patricia Glaser, who has asked the company to create a special committee to review the facts around his resignation.

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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