John Schnatter

John Schnatter, interviewed by WDRB in November 2019. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Papa John's International founder John Schnatter on Thursday sued the former advertising agency for the pizza company, alleging that the agency secretly recorded him in May 2018 and then "maliciously" leaked excerpts of the recording, in which he used racial language, to Forbes magazine.

The lawsuit filed in state court in Louisville, the company's headquarters, alleges that the actions of the agency, Laundry Service, "led to a virtual firestorm around (Schnatter) and the company" and resulted in Schnatter being ostracized from Papa John's.

Laundry Service, based in Brooklyn, New York, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"Today, I've taken a major step forward in search of the truth of what happened that caused me to lose my company, which resulted in thousands of franchisees and employees suffering from the economic fallout," Schnatter said in a news release. "The facts will show that my words were taken out of context and used to manufacture a scandal against me based on a completely false narrative."

Immediately following the incident in July 2018, Schnatter apologized and said his use of the "N-word" was not OK regardless of the context.

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2019 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.