Samuelian Comments on New York Life Insurance Company’s Settlement

State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814
Contact: Tony Lee
Tel: (559) 240-1903

March 10, 2004

Samuelian Comments on New York Life Insurance Company’s Settlement

Armenian Policyholders who perished during the Armenian Genocide One Step
Closer to Justice

Fresno – California State Assemblymember Steve Samuelian (R-Clovis) released
a statement recently regarding the State’s Insurance Commissioner, John
Garamendi’s announcement that a $20 million dollar settlement on behalf of
survivors of victims of the Armenian Genocide was reached. In his statement,
Samuelian expressed his satisfaction with the long-awaited outcome of the
litigation between the descendants of the victims of the Armenian Genocide
and the New York Life Insurance Company and went on to commended all
involved who worked relentlessly to insure that New York Life be held
accountable to it’s former policyholders.

In particular, Samuelian commended the lead plaintiff Mr. Martin Marootian,
who in 1999 along with his friend and attorney Vartges Yeghiayan, initiated
widely-publicized lawsuit against the insurance company on behalf of his
uncle, a victim of the Armenian Genocide.

Marootian’s uncle’s case is one of thousands that spans clear back to
shortly before the beginning of World War I. It was then, that the New York
Life Insurance Company began selling thousands of life insurance policies to
Armenians living in the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The War, sparked
international chaos, and allowed the Turkish government the opportunity to
initiate the systematic genocide campaign of more than a million Armenians
in 1915. Thousands of those that perished happened to be policyholders with
New York Life, but the Company disavowed any obligation to the victims and
more than 2,200 policies went “unresolved” till 1999, when Marootian began
his pursuit of justice.

Marootian’s seemingly simple case became increasingly complicated. Had it
not been for the intervention of many prominent attorneys, elected officials
who enacted new legislation, and the backing of an increasingly powerful
Armenian community and its grassroots organizations, Marootian’s endeavor
would not have ended so successfully.

In his statement, Assemblymember Samuelian said, “I commend Mr. Marootian,
along with all of the attorneys, the families of those involved, and the
fine grassroots organizations such as the Armenian National Committee of
America and the Armenian Assembly who led the public charge to raise
awareness of this issue.” Samuelian also said, “I am glad that the New York
Life Insurance Company made a principled decision to properly honor the
memory of it’s former policyholders through this $20 million restitution
settlement. Those 1.5 million innocent lives that perished at the hands of
the Ottoman Turk Government during the Armenian Genocide of 1915 were
indeed, as New York Life’s then Vice-President put it – “prematurely
terminated” at the hands of the Turks” and thus entitled to full payment of
their life insurance policies. This settlement does not vanquish the pain of
the descendents of those who were massacred but it does restore one’s faith,
that in the end, justice prevails.”

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