Bill to Ensure Armenian Genocide Life Insurance Settlements Reach

MaryAlice Kaloostian
District Director
Senator Charles S. Poochigian
4974 E. Clinton Way, Suite 100
Fresno, CA 93727
Phone: 559 253-7122
Fax: 559 253-7127


August 27, 2004

Poochigian Bill to Ensure Armenian Genocide Life Insurance Settlements
Reach Victims’ Families Passes Legislature Unanimously

SACRAMENTO – A measure to exempt Armenian Genocide life insurance
settlements from state taxation and other calculations related to
income, Senate Bill 1689 by Senator Chuck Poochigian (R-Fresno), has
passed the State Assembly and Senate unanimously.

If signed into law, recipients of Armenian Genocide life insurance
settlement payments would not have their state income tax, financial
aid or unemployment benefits negatively impacted by their receipt of
such settlements. The bill’s language mirrors exemptions similarly
afforded recipients of legal settlements related to the Holocaust.

“Survivors and heirs of victims of the Armenian Genocide have waited
many decades to resolve their claims. Correcting a past wrong should
not have the unintended consequence of financially harming the victims
and their heirs now,” said Senator Poochigian. “The fact that this
measure passed by a unanimous vote is an expression of support that
members of the Armenian community have in the California Legislature.”

The Armenian Genocide was marked by unspeakable crimes against
humanity. 1.5 million Armenians were subjected to forced marches into
the desert, torture, mayhem and murder. Thousands of innocent children
were orphaned. Those who escaped left behind all their worldly
possessions and emigrated to other nations.

Prior to 1915, the New York Life Insurance Company wrote over 2,000
insurance policies to Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Many of these
policies were written for individuals who became victims of the
Armenian Genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Claims were
denied for, among other reasons, the inability of heirs to provide
death certificates for the victims of the atrocities. Heirs on the
policies later sued for the value of the policies. In 2004, New York
Life proposed settlement with claimants of $20 million. A significant
portion of the settlement will go to settle claims with heirs on the

Senate Bill 1689 is modeled after state law that exempted Swiss bank
claim settlements and restitution payments made to victims of the
Holocaust. Senate Bill 1689 reflects Senator Poochigian’s ongoing
effort to affirm the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide, promote
the cause of justice for victims, and guard against recurrence of such
acts. In 2000, Senator Poochigian authored Senate Bill 1915 which
enabled victims and heirs of victims of the Armenian Genocide to
access the California court system to compel insurance companies to
pay insurance claims owed to victims of the Genocide. That bill
received the unanimous approval of the Legislature and provided the
opportunity to pursue contractual claims pertaining to the recent

Governor Schwarzenegger has until September 30 to sign or veto Senate
Bill 1689.


MEDIA CONTACT: MaryAlice Kaloostian (559) 253-7122

Senator Poochigian’s website can be found by visiting:
Permission to reprint granted with attribution.