Battle between attorneys settled

The lengthy legal battle between the attorneys who won tens of millions of dollars for descendants of Armenian genocide victims has run its course.

Mark Geragos and Brian Kabateck, two of the attorneys in class-action lawsuits that descendants of Armenian genocide survivors filed in federal court against insurers, have settled their lawsuit against their Glendale-based co-counsel on the multi-million dollar insurance case — Vartkes Yeghiayan and his wife, attorney Rita Mahdessian, Geragos and Kabateck announced jointly on Wednesday.

The case, which was dismissed this week, accused Yeghiayan and Mahdessian of setting up sham charities and misusing nearly $1 million from 2005 to 2011.

The settlement includes an agreement to have a third-party arbitrator review all the costs and charitable awards the attorneys claimed from the original settlement with French insurer Axa S.A.

Yeghiayan said that the settlement means there will be a court-approved review of the remaining money in the insurance fund, which will then be distributed in a court-approved plan.

“I’m glad that it’s over, at least the lawsuit, and there will be transparency, which is what I’ve always wanted from the beginning,” Yeghiayan said.

Yeghiayan said he expects the review to be completed and submitted to the court within 90 days.

After reaching settlements with New York Life Insurance Co. and Axa in 2004 and 2005, respectively, for a total of $37.5 million, two funds were established to settle insurance claims that they failed to compensate descendants of genocide victims who bought policies between 1875 and 1923.

After Geragos and Kabateck filed suit against Yeghiayan in 2011, Yeghiayan, in turn, sued them for allegedly misusing money from the Axa settlement fund and requested an audit of all 3,000 claims to look for accounting discrepancies.

After court proceedings that dragged on for more than a year, a third-part accounting firm was brought on to handle payment of about $2.1 million to 159 claimants.

That suit will also be concluded by the settlement’s review process.

Mark Geragos said in a statement that the resolution is one that will allow all of the attorneys to move on while finalizing the settlement of the insurance fund.

“Brian Kabateck and I are pleased with this resolution because it will allow all of us to finalize the settlement agreement, resolve all claims accounting issues and conclude any remaining issues between the lawyers,” he said. “The resolution of this case is as important as continuing the fight to bring justice for all Genocide victims.”


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