PASADENA (Combined Sources)–Four local charities received their portion of a $20-million insurance settlement Monday for heirs of the victims of the Armenian genocide.
Haigoush Keghinian-Kohler of the Armenian Educational Foundation–Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church–Chairman Richard Mouseghian of the Armenian Church of the North America Western Diocese–and Maro Minassian and Anahid Meymarian of the Armenian Relief Society were on hand to receive the checks for more than $333,000 each during a ceremony in Pasadena on Monday.
New York Life last year agreed to settle the 1999 class-action lawsuit filed by descendants of victims of the 1915 genocide. They accused the insurance company of not paying out 2,300 policies purchased by their relatives in the Ottoman Empire–officials said.
"This is historic because it is the first case of its kind for any money or resolution of the Armenian genocide," said Brian S. Kabateck–one of the attorneys who orchestrated the settlement and whose grandparents survived the genocide. "And it’s probably the oldest case in US history since its inception 90 years ago."
The money will benefit only the "poor and needy," Kabateck said. It cannot be used for administrative purposes by the organizations. The groups have six months to determine how to spend the money–he said.
According to the settlement–nine US charities that serve people of Armenian descent will share $3 million. Individual relatives of victims will receive the remaining $17 million.
The 55-year-old Armenian Educational Foundation provides scholarships to needy students–funds after-school programs for as many as 1,400 Glendale and Burbank children and has helped rebuild schools in Armenia–board member Haigoush Keghinian-Kohler said. The board will meet this month to decide the best use for the money–Keghinian-Kohler said.
The settlement will not only benefit the local community–but will also help the healing process–she said.
"I am a child and grandchild of survivors," Keghinian-Kohler said. "Hopefully–my parents and grandparents will rest in peace–but not completely until the US and Turkish governmen’s recognize that the genocide did happen."
The Armenian Relief Society–with affiliate entities in 24 different countries serving the social and educational needs of Armenian communities everywhere–seeks to preserve the cultural identity of the Armenian nation and bring humanitarian help to all communities in distress.
Descendants of those who have outstanding New York Life policies must file their claims by March 16 to receive their share of the settlement. People can check their eligibility at www.armenianinsurancesettlement.com.
On January 27–five Armenian charities received checks for $333,333–also part of a $20 million settlement with New York Life Insurance Co. The agreement set aside at least $11 million for descendants–$3 million for charities–and $2 million for administrative costs.