LOS ANGELES ( Business Wire)–One of the longest ongoing legal sagas in US history is coming to an end Friday–July 30. After 89 years of off again-on again legal wrangling–a hearing for final approval in the New York Life/Armenian Genocide-era beneficiaries’ settlement will be held on Friday–July 30 at the United States District Court in Los Angeles.
The court is expected to give final approval to a $20 million settlement in Martin Marootian–et al.–v. New York Life Insurance Company–Defendant–Case No. C99-12073 CAS (Mcx).
Prior to 1915–New York Life sold life insurance policies to thousands of Armenia’s living in the Ottoman Empire. New York Life policyholders were among the 1.5 million Armenia’s massacred during the Genocide. Many of the policy heirs were unable or unaware that they may be entitled to insurance benefits. While New York Life was able to find and pay many beneficiaries–the insurance company acknowledged its records indicated an estimated 2,300 policies sold to Armenia’s prior to the Genocide remained unpaid.
"This is the first time a court anywhere in the US or possibly the world has formally recognized the Armenian Genocide and the trauma and turmoil that resulted," says Brian S. Kabateck–one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs–who himself is of Armenian descent and lost family in the Genocide. "All of us are crusaders–especially the three Armenian lawyers who took on the case. While this settlement is not reparation for the Genocide–as lawyers–we can help bring recognition to the Genocide through claims for unpaid insurance benefits and stolen property that date back to 1915." Other attorneys for the plaintiffs are Vartkes Yeghiayan–Mark J. Geragos and William Shernoff. "By making these claims–heirs will receive the benefits due them," says Kabateck–"but more importantly–it’s a significant step that further recognizes the Armenian Genocide–something that the United States and Turkey still refuse to do."
The court had given preliminary approval to the settlement in January. A three-member Settlement Fund Board–with members appointed by California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi–will approve claims. The board will also be responsible for distributing $3 million of the settlement to nine Armenian charitable organizations. The class includes Armenia’s living in the United States and abroad.
Notification of the final settlement will be advertised in newspapers in the United States–France–Argentina–Russia–Lebanon and Armenia. Information will also be available at: www.armenianinsurancesettlement.com.
Beneficiaries will have six months to file a notice of claim. The board will then contact beneficiaries with instructions for completing the appropriate claim forms.
The following nine Armenian organizations will share equally in the $3 million fund. If heirs do not come forward for policy benefits–more money will be distributed to additional charities.
Armenian Church of North America Eastern Diocese–Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church Eastern US and Canada–Armenian Church of North America Western Diocese–Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church–Armenian Apostolic Catholic Exarchate for Armenian Catholics in the US & Canada–Armenian Missionary Association of America–Inc.–Armenian Relief Society–Armenian General Benevolent Union–Armenian Educational Foundation
The hearing is set for 9:30 AM at the US District Court–312 N. Spring Street in Los Angeles–California.