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Attorneys work toward Armenian Genocide settlement

A U.S. District judge on Monday gave attorneys feuding over a multimillion-dollar compensation fund for descendants of Armenian Genocide victims until Aug. 8 to agree on how to proceed.

A motion filed by Glendale-based attorney Vartkes Yeghiayan contends that attorneys Mark Geragos and Brian Kabateck initially reported $346,050 in the compensation fund formed by French insurer Axa S.A.

Yeghiayan, who once served as co-counsel with Geragos and Kabateck on class-action lawsuits for the descendents, called for an audit after a follow-up report showed about $2.8 million in the Axa fund, according to court records.

Several years ago, New York Life Insurance Co. and Axa agreed to set up separate funds for a total $37.5 million to settle claims that they failed to compensate descendants of Armenian Genocide victims who bought policies between 1875 and 1923.


Yeghiayan’s motion includes a statement by William Paparian, former mayor of Pasadena, in which he outlines receiving a check dated Dec. 26, 2009, for $680.15 on behalf of his maternal and paternal grandfathers, who were Axa policy holders. However, the cover letter did not specify which claim was being paid or how it had been allocated among other relatives, according to the motion.

Kabateck said the accounting discrepancy arose when he and Geragos reviewed the account after discovering about 100 people had not been paid.

“We were the ones who discovered it. We were the ones who reported it to the court,” Kabateck said.

Kabateck acknowledged that before the discovery, he and Geragos had sought to close the fund because they thought everyone had received payment. Now, he said they support keeping it open until everyone has been compensated.


Yeghiayan claims the request to close the fund was made without his approval when he was co-counsel.

“The most important thing is to get those 100 people paid,” Kabateck said.

Several hundred people have been paid since the fund was established, Kabateck said, with about $6.5 million having been paid out so far.