Genocide insurance case moves ahead

Amber Willard

GLENDALE -- A lawsuit with the potential to award millions of dollars

to heirs of Armenian life insurance policy holders is set to move

forward.

The suit, in which La Canada Flintridge resident Martin Marootian is

the lead plaintiff, has filtered through the the U.S. District Court

system since it was filed in 1999. Earlier this week, a judge ruled in

favor of the plaintiffs, who are suing New York Life Insurance for

payment of policies taken out by family members who died during the

Armenian Genocide.

The insurance company had asked that the case be dismissed, claiming

California was not a legal venue for the suit to be filed. A judge

disagreed and ordered the case to continue. A new hearing date had not

been set by Friday afternoon.

A tentative $10-million settlement was reached in April but after

review, the plaintiffs and their attorneys said they decided the amount

was not enough to cover the possible claims of other families.

"In Glendale, you might be talking about 5,000 heirs," said Mark

Geragos, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs.

Attorneys in the case have likened the struggle to that of Jewish

families battling with insurance companies to cover policies taken out by

relatives who were killed in the Holocaust. The Armenian Genocide

occurred a few decades before the start of the Jewish Holocaust -- around

1915, compared to about 1933.

"New York Life has run, but they can't hide," Geragos said.

Representatives from New York Life Insurance could not be reached for

comment.

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