The final approval of a settlement has been granted to thousands of Holocaust victims and their heirs against Italian insurer Generali over unpaid insurance policies during the Holocaust era.
A U.S. appeals court Friday upheld the settlement that was reaffirmed by a lower court judge in January, awarding what lawyers have estimated to total $50 million in payouts to more than 50,000 potential class members.
“We conclude that it was not error for the District Court to approve the settlement,” the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
Generali was among the biggest insurers in Eastern Europe before World War Two and its policies were popular with Jews. It faced a class-action lawsuit over claims it failed to honor policies held by victims of the Nazis.
An initial settlement between Generali and victims of the Nazis and their relatives was reached last year.
U.S. District Judge George Daniels ruled in January that appropriate notice had been given to potential class members, after the appeals court annulled the initial settlement. At that time the court questioned whether adequate notice had been given to people with potential interest in the suit.
But the appeals court Friday agreed with Daniels, who said, “the record indicates that the notice provided to potential class members satisfied the requirements of due process.”
Generali has said it already paid claims for a total of $35 million and in January one of the victim’s lawyers said a further 35,000 claims had been submitted that could result in a payout of over $15 million.
Potential class members had until Dec. 26 to file a claim. But Generali has said the filing date can be extended until 2009 if new documents proving the existence of insurance policies emerged from the archive in the small German town of Bad Arolsen.
In April Germany opened Bad Arolsen’s archive, the world’s largest collection of documents on Nazi crimes and their victims. It contains about 50 million records on some 17 million victims of Hitler’s Nazi regime.
(Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Alan Elsner)
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