Calif. Commissioner Announces Settlement on Behalf of Survivors of Victims of Armenian Holocaust

January 28, 2004

California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi announced a settlement in long running litigation between descendants of the victims of the Armenian Genocide and the New York Life Insurance Company.

“During the late 1800s and early 1900s New York Life sold thousands of life insurance policies to ethnic Armenians in the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Many of those who bought the policies were killed during a deliberate, systematic and government-controlled genocide that began in April 1915. Many of the survivors of these policyholders live in California and I am gratified that due to the parties’ hard work in this matter, justice will finally be served.

“After long negotiations, I have been able to secure a $20 million fund that will go to the payment of those claims. New York Life has been generous in its willingness to compromise in order to come to a complex, detailed agreement that will make up for past delays and will benefit both the survivors of Armenian policyholders as well as the Armenian community.

“Of the $20 million fund, at least $3 million will be put into the ‘Unclaimed/Heirless Fund,’ which will be contributed to charitable organizations whose activities advance the Court-approved charitable interests of the Armenian community.

“I will appoint the three members of the Settlement Fund Board, and that Board will evaluate each claim, pursuant to standards and criteria to be determined by the Board together with the Parties.

“Potential claimants will be informed via Notice to be approved by the Court and published statewide. My consumer hotline will also be able to direct potential claimants to the settlement Web site. Please call 800-927-HELP (800-927-4357).

“I would also like to thank both the Plaintiffs’ attorneys, Vartkes Yeghiayan and Joe Majarian, Yeghiayan & Associates; Mark Geragos and Shelley Kaufman, Geragos & Geragos; Brian S. Kabateck, Kabateck & Garris; Bill Shernoff and Evangeline Garris, Shernoff, Bidart & Darras, and New York Life Insurance Company, for their hard work and cooperation in making this settlement a reality.”

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