A Massachusetts couple has sued eBay and several of the e-commerce company's former officials, claiming the defendants carried out a harassment campaign against them that included death threats.
Ina and David Steiner of Natick, Massachusetts, allege in their 12-count civil suit that eBay "engaged in a systematic campaign to emotionally and psychologically torture" them and "engaged in a coordinated effort to intimidate, threaten to kill, torture, terrorize, stalk and silence" the pair "in order to stifle their reporting on eBay."
The Steiners publish an eCommerce newsletter called EcommerceBytes, and said the harassment campaign began in 2019 at the direction of eBay higher-ups who were unhappy with EcommerceBytes posts regarding the firm. The complaint states that as part of the coordinated effort, the eBay employees mailed threatening items to the Steiners' home, including a Halloween mask of a bloodied pig head, live spiders and a book titled "Surviving Loss of a Spouse."
Former eBay employees named in the suit are also accused of plotting to break into the Steiners' garage to put a GPS tracker on their vehicle, and one allegedly showed up at the couple's home when they were holding a yard sale and asked questions in an attempt to gather information.
According to the lawsuit, the now-terminated eBay employees accused in the case sought to destroy evidence of the harassment campaign after finding out that the Natick Police Department had launched an investigation into what was happening to the Steiners. Federal officials also got involved, and several of the defendants have pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the case.
Former eBay CEO David Wenig – who made a surprise exit from the company in Sept. 2019 – is named as a defendant, but was never charged by authorities.
Ebay said it has cooperated fully with the criminal investigations into what happened, and acknowledged that the Steiners have a cause for complaint.
"The misconduct of these former employees was wrong, and we will do what is fair and appropriate to try to address what the Steiners went through," the company told FOX Business in a statement. "The events from 2019 should never have happened, and as eBay expressed to the Steiners, we are very sorry for what they endured."
After filing their lawsuit on Wednesday, the Steiners held a press conference along with their attorney, Rosemary Scapicchio, who told reporters, "I just want to make clear that the directives, in this case, came from the top. The directives in this case – to stop the Steiners and intimidate the Steiners – came from the top management of eBay."
"Firing employees after the fact isn't enough," the lawyer added. "Send that message to corporate America."
The Steiners are seeking legal fees, damages and relief in an amount determined by a jury.