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An affiliate of Zurich North America filed a lawsuit Tuesday claiming it is not responsible to pay disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s legal bills following his arrest for rape.
Steadfast Insurance Co. v. Harvey Weinstein was filed in New York State Supreme Court in New York and seeks a declaration that “Steadfast has no obligation to provide coverage to Weinstein in connection with an underlying criminal prosecution by the New York County District Attorney’s Office.”
“Steadfast only has an obligation to pay loss in connection with a claim that is covered by the Steadfast policy,” according to Steadfast’s complaint. “The criminal case is not covered under the Steadfast policy.”
The complaint said Mr. Weinstein was arrested on May 25 and charged by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office with two counts of rape and one count of criminal sexual act for two separate incidents that allegedly took place in 2004 and in 2013.
“Steadfast seeks a declaration that the criminal proceeding is not within the scope of coverage afforded by and does not trigger the insuring agreements of the insurance policy issued by Steadfast under which Weinstein seeks coverage,” the complaint said.
Steadfast said that it issued an employment practices liability policy to the Walt Disney Co. for the period from June 30, 2017, to June 30, 2018.
On June 18, court records state, Steadfast advised Mr. Weinstein that it would pay his defense costs “subject to a reservation of rights, including the right to deny coverage and to recoup all amounts paid by Steadfast in the event it was determined that no coverage existed under the Steadfast Policy for the Criminal Case.”
“An actual case or controversy exists between the parties as to whether coverage exists under the Steadfast Policy for the Criminal Case,” the complaint said.
Steadfast said it is declining coverage for the $1 million bail Mr. Weinstein paid and advised him “that the cash bail paid by Weinstein is not within the definition of defense Costs or loss under the Steadfast policy.”
Steadfast also said it is entitled to recoup all amounts it paid on Mr. Weinstein’s behalf in connection with the criminal case, “in an amount to be proven at the trial of this action.”
The action follows a similar move by Chubb Ltd. units in February, which filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment that policies issued to Mr. Weinstein do not cover the disgraced movie mogul for defense costs or damages resulting from sexual assault and sexual harassment lawsuits.
Mr. Weinstein has filed a countersuit against Chubb.
Recent allegations of sexual harassment involving movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, coupled with the #MeToo social media campaign, are a “watershed moment” for women, according to Michael Kimmel, a sociologist who has studied masculinity for decades. While in the past, women who made such accusations were often challenged as “women scorned”—such was the case when Anita Hill testified at Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ 1991 nomination hearings--they now are being taken seriously, he said during last month’s Fast Company Innovation Festival.