Papa John’s International Inc. founder John Schnatter said he didn’t fight fellow directors’ request that he step down as chairman to protect the faltering pizza-delivery chain.
Schnatter, testifying in a court fight over files related to his ouster, said he was trying to avoid more bad publicity when his colleagues requested he relinquish the chairmanship in July.
“They were going to vote me out, and I didn’t want a public fight over the chairmanship because of the crisis we were going through,” Schnatter told Delaware Chancery Court Judge Andre Bouchard Monday. The company’s founder said he sued to force current executives to hand over records related to their moves against him.
The lawsuit is part of Schnatter’s bid to return to power at the embattled pizza chain, which is struggling with declining sales and controversies related to the founder’s alleged miscues.
Schnatter used a racial slur on a media-agency call but says it was taken out of context. The company has stopped using Schnatter in its advertising.
Schnatter acknowledged in court Monday he used the slur while discussing the addition of singer Kanye West in Papa John’s advertising. “I was pushed to use that exact word and I also said I was not a racist,” Schnatter told the judge.
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