Armenian Genocide law goes back to court

A federal appeals court will rehear a challenge to a California law that has resulted in lawsuits against insurance companies on behalf of victims of the Armenian Genocide.

The state law, passed in 2000, extends the statute of limitations for life insurance claims that were never paid out to descendants of Armenian Genocide victims. California residents originally were given a deadline of Dec. 31, 2010, but legislation introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) extended it to Dec. 31, 2016.

A three-judge panel with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld the statute late last year, reversing its own initial decision to dismiss the case.

This time, an 11-judge panel for the appellate court will rehear the case against two German insurers and their parent company.

Between 1915 and 1923, 1.5 million Armenians died at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

In their challenge of the law, the parent insurance company and the Republic of Turkey claim that because the United States doesn’t officially recognize the genocide, states should be prohibited from doing so.

The government of Turkey has denied that a genocide occurred.

Two legal briefs have been filed with the court from California and four other states, as well as legislative representatives, defending the rights of states to pass laws referring to the Armenian Genocide.

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