BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
On Monday, August 8, a hearing took place in Federal Judge Christina A. Snyder’s court in downtown Los Angeles. It was part of the lawsuit that has pitted against one another attorneys who once jointly fought the French insurance company, AXA, to secure payment to the heirs of Genocide victims who had bought life insurance policies from that company.
This session, postponed from three weeks prior, witnessed the litigating sides agreeing on some points. Meetings had been held between the two sides (Mark Geragos/Brian Kabateck vs. Vartkes Yeghiayan). Geragos and Kabateck spoke for themselves while Yeghiayan was represented by another attorney, Roman Silberfeld. They requested, and received, from the judge, more time to continue their efforts to resolve their differences. Judge Snyder put off until after October 3, the implementation of subpoenas and discovery.
The sides also agreed that important information was held by Parsegh Kartalian, the administrator who ran the distribution of the millions of dollars that AXA was required to pay to the rightful recipients of the insurance policies’ payouts. They had not yet been able to meet with Kartalian, and requested the court act on this, if necessary subpoenaing him. Silberfeld went into the greatest details, citing numerous cases in which claimants had received multiple checks. One had gotten twelve. Some of these checks remain uncashed to date. The amounts paid out varied wildly from a little over $100 to over $200,000. These and other questions are what Kartalian is expected to provide answers and clarification for.
Also present was an attorney, Boyd, representing the Settlement Board (SB) that was established to oversee the whole process. Her presence in court was apparently something new. She stated that the SB also needed more information and was waiting for documentation from Kartalian.
Geragos remarked negatively about the participation of the SB in the proceedings. Judge Snyder commented that the SB did not have as much authority as it seemed to think it had, and Kartalian must answer to the court, not the SB. She also remarked that the SB’s participation had been “fomented” by people present in the courtroom “who shall remain nameless”. The judge was clearly annoyed, saying also that she was aware “alliances had been formed” and that it “will stop right now”. The degree to which Snyder was incensed became evident when said they had set out to do something important for the community, and instead were confronted by “something very unseemly”, presumably referring to the current state of litigious affairs.
Judge Snyder also displayed concern over the use of funds from the AXA settlement. In the interest of not wasting funds, she said she did not want to appoint a receiver and later denied, without prejudice, the Yeghiayan side’s motion for a special master.
The next hearing was scheduled for September 26.
In the interest of full disclosure, my family is an AXA claimant. The claim was denied. No explanation was given.