which also calls for $3 million to be split between nine Armenian
charities, including the Armenian Educational Foundation in Glendale
and the Armenian Church of North America Western Diocese in Burbank.
More money might be given to the charities if policies go unclaimed,
Los Angeles attorney Brian Kabateck said Wednesday.
The settlement is the first of its kind stemming from the Armenian
Genocide, in which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians died at the
hands of the Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1923.
It was not known Wednesday how many residents of Glendale and
Burbank would be affected by the settlement, but Kabateck estimated
hundreds could receive some money. About 45% of Glendale's population
is of Armenian descent.
The lawsuit against New York Life was filed by La Canada
Flintridge resident Martin Marootian and 12 other plaintiffs in
Federal District Court in Los Angeles in November 1999. The lawsuit
asked for the names of Armenians who purchased life insurance
policies in the Ottoman Empire prior to the genocide and to properly
compensate the beneficiaries of those policies.
Marootian could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
A tentative settlement was reached in 2001, but talks fell
through, New York Life spokesman William Werfelman said.
"This time, with the help of [state Insurance Commissioner John
Garamendi], the parties are confident that we have a fair and
equitable agreement that the court will approve," Werfelman released
in a statement.
The length of time it took to reach the settlement was because of
legal issues, community agreement and the legal climate, Kabateck
"All those things affected people's judgment in the case. They
were all were paramount in reaching the settlement," Kabateck said.
The settlement was a fair resolution, but it is only the
beginning, co-counsel Mark Geragos said.
"I'm extremely pleased," Geragos said. "This will be first step in
collecting money from corporations and companies as a result of
Armenian genocide.... There are others who we will contact and try to
get them to see the light."
Ultimately, any amount of money is just not enough, said Ardy
Kassakhian, a Glendale resident and executive director of the
Armenian National Committee's western region offices.
"A large corporation settles for a sum that's relatively
insignificant for them, but we still have to suffer the stings and
barbs of [those in denial]," Kassakhian said. "It's just unfortunate.
This case really has nothing to do with the eventual quest for