which started in 1915. New York Life Insurance, the American company
that issued Pridjian's great-grandfather a policy, recently agreed
after years of negotiations to pay $20 million to the heirs of about
2,400 policyholders from the genocide.
An estimated 1.5 million Armenians died during the Armenian
Genocide between 1915 and 1923 as the Turkish Ottoman Empire
crumbled. About 35% to 40% of Glendale's population is of Armenian
A class-action lawsuit filed by 12 plaintiffs, led by Martin
Marootian of La Canada Flintridge, was settled in late January for
$20 million. But some claimants feel the money is inadequate, and the
settlement a poor one.
The plaintiffs' lawyers had estimated the payout for each claimant
would be between $25,000 and $50,000, said Pridjian's lawyer, Ben
Nutley. In reality, the average payout will be more like $3,000, he
The settlement documents, which have not been filed in Federal
District Court, were not available to the public Monday.
"From what we know of the settlement, we don't think it's
adequate. Or, at least we're going to need to see some detailed
explanation for why it's adequate," Nutley said. "This is arguably a
worse settlement than what they came up with a couple of years ago.
The risks and costs were on the defendant, not on the plaintiff [in
the last settlement]. What they've done is increased the amount and
increased the attorney's fees -- a lot.
"In many ways, they're getting a better deal now."
Members of the local Armenian community allege the money is
inadequate simply because of high administrative costs and attorneys'
fees. Out of the $20-million settlement, up to $11 million would be
distributed among the heirs of the 2,400 policy holders, $4 million
to the four plaintiff lawyers handling the class-action lawsuit, $3
million to nine Armenian charitable organizations in the U.S., and
$2 million or more would go toward administrative expenses.
Pridjian's uncle, Krikor Doumanian, 75, said he also would
probably opt out of the settlement.
"When I first heard [of it], I thought it was a joke," Doumanian
said. "After putting the expenses in, there would be nothing left for
"The parties are confident that this is a fair, reasonable,
adequate settlement and one the judge will feel comfortable
approving," New York Life spokesman Bill Werfelman said.
A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 19 to consider whether a federal
judge will approve the settlement.