LOS ANGELES–A list of more than 2,300 Armenia’s who took out New York Life Insurance policies in the years preceding the 1915 Armenian Genocide has been posted on www.armenianbar.org–the website of the Armenian Bar Association (ArmenBar). Individuals who find the names of their ancestors on these lists–or who know that an ancestor had taken out a life insurance policy are encouraged to contact ArmenBar or the plaintiff’s attorneys listed on the web site.
This list of life insurance policyholders was made public in the federal court case files of Marootian v. New York Life Insurance Co.–a class action lawsuit initiated in November 1999 by Martin Marootian and ten other beneficiaries of unpaid life insurance policies issued by New York Life–in Turkey prior to 1915.
Marootian and his fellow plaintiffs are suing New York Life to recover damages for improperly withholding paymen’s on policies on the lives of thousands of Armenia’s who lost their lives during the Armenian Genocide. While the case against New York Life is still pending–it is believed that a settlement may be near.
As reflected in court papers filed in the case–New York Life conducted business in the Ottoman Empire beginning in the late 19th century. By 1914–it had sold at least 8,000 local contracts for life insurance policies worth more than $10 million at that time. The majority of these policies were believed to be held by Armenia’s–many of whom perished in subsequent massacres and deportations.
The list of policyholders posted on the ArmenBar website are policies sold to Armenia’s that New York Life has acknowledged it has that are still what it classifies as "unresolved," meaning not paid to the policyholders’ heirs. It is not known whether this is a complete list of all "unresolved" Armenian policies sold by New York Life–which claims to have attempted to contact the descendants of the policyholders but in many cases could not locate them.
ArmenBar believes this case provides an important forum for expanding the dialogue on the Armenian Genocide and its continued denial by the Turkish government. In order to increase public awareness and understanding of this case–ArmenBar also compiled a compendium of significant pleadings and other documen’s filed with the court–together with other background information relating to the litigants and attorneys involved–which can be accessed on ArmenBar ‘s website at www.armenianbar.org.