Armenian genocide successors' claims against insurers dismissed

Survivors of Armenian genocide victims can't sue German insurance companies for failing to pay claims on their ancestors because only the federal government has the power to bring foreign entities to U.S. courts, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

The 11-0 ruling by the full court dismissing the lawsuit filed nearly a decade ago probably puts an end to efforts by the genocide victims' descendants to compel German companies to pay off on policies sold to the victims from 1875 to 1923.

A 2000 revision to California's civil code allowed California courts to consider insurance claims stemming from policies sold to Armenians in Europe and Asia by subsidiaries or forerunners of the German insurance company now known as Munich Re.

"The Constitution gives the federal government the exclusive authority to administer foreign affairs," the appeals court said. "Under the foreign affairs doctrine, state laws that intrude on this exclusively federal power are preempted."

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-- Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times

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