Heirs kept in dark, lawyer says

Heirs kept in dark, lawyer says
Notice of genocide settlement at issue
By Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer

Los Angeles Daily News, CA
May 28 2004

An attorney in New York Life’s $20 million settlement with descendants
of Armenian Genocide victims says the company is failing to notify
possible heirs.

Ben Nutley, a Beverly Hills attorney representing three claimants in
the class-action case, has asked the judge to order the company to
include the word Armenian Genocide in public notices of the settlement
and to broaden its advertising of the deal.

“We’re saying the notice wasn’t disseminated widely, correctly or
accurately,” Nutley said. “You are obligated to make your best effort
to have a notice that will attract the attention of potential claimants
of the settlement.”

Any unclaimed money goes into a fund to be distributed to Armenian
charitable organizations identified in the agreement, he said.

Nutley said legal notices published in newspapers leave out the term
“Armenian Genocide.”

“It’s denialist language,” he said. “For these claimants who have
objected to the notice so far, it’s about justice for all Armenians
and this is something they’re committed to.”

But New York Life officials maintain they have carefully followed
the court’s instructions.

“The terms of the settlement, including the notice provisions, were
negotiated by attorneys on both sides and subject to court approval,”
said William Werfelman, a spokesman for New York Life. “We’re confident
they provide the best possible notice to those who may be entitled
to benefits under the settlement.”

The insurance company reached a $20 million settlement in January with
descendants of Armenian policyholders who perished in the genocide
of 1915. After attorney fees, administrative costs and donations to
charitable organizations, the settlement leaves $11 million to pay
the holders of more than 2,000 policies.

Notices were placed in newspapers for about six weeks in an effort
to find descendants of policy holders.

Claimants must object to the terms of the settlement by June 15 and
a final approval hearing is scheduled for July 30.

Naush Boghossian, (818) 546-3306 [email protected]