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New York Life Settlement
For more information on this settlement, and a list of names of policyholders, visit: http://www.armenianinsurancesettlement.com
Agreement Is Reached To Settle Armenian Insurance Policies From 1915
LOS ANGELES, January 28, 2004 - New York Life Insurance Company has reached an agreement with plaintiffs' attorneys to resolve more than 2,000 insurance policies issued to Armenians in the Turkish Ottoman Empire prior to 1915. As part of the class action settlement agreement, New York Life will pay all valid claims relating to these policies and will also contribute at least $3 million to Armenian civic organizations. The total value of the settlement is $20 million, including administrative costs and plaintiffs' attorney's fees.
Sy Sternberg, chairman and chief executive of New York Life, said, "When it became clear that many of our Armenian policyholders perished in the tragic events of 1915, New York Life hired an Armenian lawyer in the region to assist the heirs of those who died, so as to promptly pay claims. Time after time, the company would waive normal claims procedures and reinstate lapsed Armenian policies in order to pay the heirs. Records confirm that the company succeeded in paying benefits in about a third of those Armenian policies. Our willingness today to resolve policies that may remain unpaid from that era shows that New York Life adheres to the same values of integrity and humanity that guided us then."
As part of the class action settlement New York Life will contribute $3 million to Armenian organizations that were instrumental in providing humanitarian aid to those displaced from Armenia and to other associations active in the community today. Attached is a list of the nine organizations that the parties have agreed will equally share the $3 million.
The plaintiffs' legal team included California-based attorneys Mark Geragos, William Shernoff, Vartkes Yeghiayan and Brian Kabateck.
New York Life expressed gratitude to Commissioner John Garamendi of the California Department of Insurance for his personal involvement in helping them reach an amicable agreement.
In light of the settlement agreement, New York Life and plaintiffs' attorneys have informed a federal court in Los Angeles that an agreement has been reached to resolve the matter. If the court approves the settlement the pending lawsuit will be dismissed.
New York Life Insurance Company has been headquartered in New York City since its founding in 1845.
The following Armenian organizations will share equally in the $3 million fund:
- Armenian Church of North America Eastern Diocese
New York, New York
- Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church Eastern US and Canada
New York, New York
- Armenian Church of North America Western Diocese
- Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church
Los Angeles, California
- Armenian Apostolic Catholic Exarchate for Armenian Catholics in the US & Canada
New York, New York
Paramus, New Jersey
- Armenian Relief Society, United States Chapter
New York, New York
New York Life
New York Life
February 25, 2005
Gary Gartner (415) 533-2003 cell
Norman Williams (916) 492-3566
Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi and attorney Mark Geragos help distribute settlement MONEY TO ARMENIAN ORGANIZATIONS FROM $20 MILLION CLASS ACTION SUit
Monday morning in pasadena
Nine Armenian charitable organizations receive $3 million on behalf of descendants of the 1915 Armenian Genocide
WHO: California State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi
Martin Marootian, 89 year old lead plaintiff in the class action suit against New York Life
Attorneys Mark J. Geragos, Brian S. Kabateck, Vartkes Yeghiayan and William Shernoff
Bill Werfelman, New York Life Insurance
Representatives from Armenian charity organizations
WHAT: Ceremony in which three California Armenian charities will receive $333,000 each from a $20 million class action settlement between New York Life and descendants of the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
WHEN: Monday, February 28, 2005 10:00 a.m.
WHERE: Brian Kabateck Residence
215 South Grand Avenue
Directions: 134 Freeway North, Exit and turn Right on Orange Grove Blvd.; Right on West Green Street; Left on South Grand Ave.
Before 1915, New York Life sold life insurance policies to thousands of Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire. New York Life policyholders were among the 1.5 million Armenians massacred during the Armenian Genocide at that time.
California State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi helped negotiate the final agreement for the distribution of the $20 million settlement. "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," Garamendi said.
In the ensuing chaos, many of the rightful policy heirs were unable to obtain insurance proceeds while others were unaware that they were entitled to benefits. During litigation, New York Life acknowledged its records indicated an estimated 2,400 policies sold to Armenians before the Genocide may remain unpaid. The class includes Armenians living in the United States and abroad who are descendants and heirs of policyholders. They will share the bulk of the settlement.
The class action is the oldest resolved case in U.S. history-90 years have passed between the original events and the settlement. It is also the first recorded case addressing issues involving the Armenian Genocide. The United States and Turkish governments have never officially acknowledged the Armenian Genocide despite overwhelming evidence and eyewitness accounts. In direct contrast, a private company (New York Life) acknowledged the tragedy and fulfilled its obligation to the victims.
The class action was originally filed in November 1999 in Federal District Court in Los Angeles (Martin Marootian, et al. v. New York Life Insurance Company). Class co-counsel includes California attorneys Brian S. Kabateck, Kabateck Brown Kellner LLP, Vartkes Yeghiayan, Yeghiayan & Associates, Mark J. Geragos, Geragos & Geragos and William Shernoff, Shernoff, Bidart & Darras.
During the course of litigation, New York Life acknowledged its records indicated an estimated 2,400 policies sold to Armenians before the Genocide may remain unpaid. The class includes Armenians living in the United States and abroad who are descendants and heirs of policyholders. They will share the bulk of the multi-million dollar settlement.
Three Armenian organizations in California will receive $333,333 including the Armenian Church of North America Western Diocese (Burbank), Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church (Los Angeles), Armenian Educational Foundation (Glendale). The Armenian Relief Society, United States Chapter of Watertown, Massachusetts will also receive an equal portion of the proceeds at the ceremony on Monday.
In a ceremony in New York City on January 26, 2005 five additional organizations received $333,333 each. They include the Armenian Church of North America Eastern Diocese (New York), Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church Eastern U.S. and Canada (New York), Armenian Apostolic Catholic Exarchate for Armenian Catholics in the U.S. and Canada (New York), Armenian Missionary Association of America, Inc. (Paramus, New Jersey) and the Armenian General Benevolent Union (New York).
Descendants have until March 15, 2005 to make a claim for a portion of the settlement.
Details of the settlement and the New York Life policies involved are available at www.ArmenianInsuranceSettlement.com