February 25, 2005
Gary Gartner (415) 533-2003 cell
Norman Williams (916) 492-3566
Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi and attorney Mark Geragos help
distribute settlement MONEY TO ARMENIAN ORGANIZATIONS FROM $20 MILLION
CLASS ACTION SUit
Monday morning in pasadena
Nine Armenian charitable organizations receive $3 million on behalf of
descendants of the 1915 Armenian Genocide
WHO: California State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi
Martin Marootian, 89 year old lead plaintiff in
the class action suit against New York Life
Attorneys Mark J. Geragos, Brian S. Kabateck,
Vartkes Yeghiayan and William Shernoff
Bill Werfelman, New York Life Insurance
Representatives from Armenian charity
WHAT: Ceremony in which three California Armenian charities
will receive $333,000 each from a $20 million class action settlement
between New York Life and descendants of the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
WHEN: Monday, February 28, 2005
WHERE: Brian Kabateck Residence
215 South Grand Avenue
Directions: 134 Freeway North, Exit and turn Right on Orange Grove
Blvd.; Right on West Green Street; Left on South Grand Ave.
Before 1915, New York Life sold life insurance policies to thousands of
Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire. New York Life policyholders were
among the 1.5 million Armenians massacred during the Armenian Genocide
at that time.
California State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi helped negotiate
the final agreement for the distribution of the $20 million settlement.
“During the late 1800s and early 1900s New York Life sold thousands of
life insurance policies to ethnic Armenians in the Turkish Ottoman
Empire. Many of those who bought the policies were killed during a
deliberate, systematic and government-controlled genocide that began in
Many of the survivors of these policyholders live in California and I am
gratified that due to the parties’ hard work in this matter, justice
will finally be served,” Garamendi said.
In the ensuing chaos, many of the rightful policy heirs were unable to
obtain insurance proceeds while others were unaware that they were
entitled to benefits. During litigation, New York Life acknowledged its
records indicated an estimated 2,400 policies sold to Armenians before
the Genocide may remain unpaid. The class includes Armenians living in
the United States and abroad who are descendants and heirs of
policyholders. They will share the bulk of the settlement.
The class action is the oldest resolved case in U.S. history-90 years
have passed between the original events and the settlement. It is also
the first recorded case addressing issues involving the Armenian
Genocide. The United States and Turkish governments have never
officially acknowledged the Armenian Genocide despite overwhelming
evidence and eyewitness accounts. In direct contrast, a private company
(New York Life) acknowledged the tragedy and fulfilled its obligation to
The class action was originally filed in November 1999 in Federal
District Court in Los Angeles (Martin Marootian, et al. v. New York Life
Insurance Company). Class co-counsel includes California attorneys Brian
S. Kabateck, Kabateck Brown Kellner LLP, Vartkes Yeghiayan, Yeghiayan &
Associates, Mark J. Geragos, Geragos & Geragos and William Shernoff,
Shernoff, Bidart & Darras.
During the course of litigation, New York Life acknowledged its records
indicated an estimated 2,400 policies sold to Armenians before the
Genocide may remain unpaid. The class includes Armenians living in the
United States and abroad who are descendants and heirs of policyholders.
They will share the bulk of the multi-million dollar settlement.
Three Armenian organizations in California will receive $333,333
including the Armenian Church of North America Western Diocese
(Burbank), Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church (Los
Angeles), Armenian Educational Foundation (Glendale). The Armenian
Relief Society, United States Chapter of Watertown, Massachusetts will
also receive an equal portion of the proceeds at the ceremony on Monday.
In a ceremony in New York City on January 26, 2005 five additional
organizations received $333,333 each. They include the Armenian Church
of North America Eastern Diocese (New York), Prelacy of the Armenian
Apostolic Church Eastern U.S. and Canada (New York), Armenian Apostolic
Catholic Exarchate for Armenian Catholics in the U.S. and Canada (New
York), Armenian Missionary Association of America, Inc. (Paramus, New
Jersey) and the Armenian General Benevolent Union (New York).
Descendants have until March 15 to make a claim for a portion of the
Details of the settlement and the New York Life policies involved are