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Chubb seeks ruling it does not have to defend eBay in harassment case


A Chubb Ltd. unit is seeking a court’s declaration it does not have to defend or indemnify eBay Inc. and former officials and employees in connection with the harassment of a Massachusetts couple.

Seven former eBay workers were criminally charged in 2020 with harassing David and Ina Steiner, who co-authored a newsletter, by arranging anonymous messages that included a bloody pig mask and live insects.

They did so after two top executives expressed frustration with the newsletter, according to prosecutors and a lawsuit filed by the company against San Jose-based eBay.

Chubb unit Ace Property & Casualty Insurance Co. had issued a series of commercial umbrella liability policies to eBay with policy periods for October 2015 to October 2021, according to the lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in San Jose in ACE Property & Casualty Insurance Co. vs. eBay Inc. et al.

Its policies were in excess of primary policies issued by the Zurich Insurance Group. Zurich did not respond to a request for comment.

In August, eBay forwarded a copy of a lawsuit filed by the Steiners to Ace, and requested that it provide coverage under the umbrella policies, according to the Ace complaint.

In April, in letters to eBay as well as former eBay CEO Devin Wenig and former Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Steve Wymer, who were named in the Steiner litigation but not criminally charged in the case, Ace agreed to investigate the civil action subject to a full reservation of rights including its right to disclaim coverage.

The insurer disclaimed coverage to other former employees who were involved in the case. “The loss alleged by the Steiners in the Civil Action was caused by the willful acts of eBay and its former executives Wenig and Wymer, and the Criminally Convicted Defendants within the meaning” of the California insurance code and therefore Ace is not liable, the lawsuit says.

The insurer is also seeking interest, costs and attorneys fees.

EBay did not respond to a request for comment.