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Heirs to Armenian Genocide gain settlement of $20 million

A $20 million settlement for heirs of the Armenian Genocide that took place 90 years ago has been agreed to for the thousands of people who were originally denied the right to collect on their policies.

The suit, which was filed against New York Life Insurance on behalf of 2,300 Armenian Americans who purchased insurance policies when they immigrated to the United States during the genocide, resulted in a $20 million settlement for the thousands of people who were originally denied the right to collect on their policies. Part of the settlement was also earmarked for Armenian charities.

The agreement set aside at least $11 million for descendants,
$3 million for charities and $2 million for administrative costs. Four charities in Los Angeles will receive the rest
of the $3 million.

Five Armenian charities received checks for $333,333 in January 2005, as part of an insurance settlement with descendants of Armenians massacred 90 years ago by the Turks.

The checks are part of a $20 million settlement with New York Life Insurance Co., which issued 2,300 policies to Armenians in Turkey before 1915 that were never paid, according to plaintiffs' attorney Brian Kabateck.

Armenians contend that 1.5 million people were executed between 1915 and 1919 by Turkish authorities who accused them of helping the invading Russian army during World War I. Turkey rejects the genocide claim and says Armenians were killed in civil unrest during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. France and Russia are among countries that have declared the killings genocide, but the United States has not.

The agreement set aside at least $11 million for descendants, $3 million for charities and $2 million for administrative costs. Four charities in Los Angeles will receive the rest of the $3 million.

Descendants of the policy holders have until March 16 to file claims.

The settlement, approved last year by a federal judge in Los Angeles, is believed to be the first involving the events of the era.

Mark Geragos, a prominent criminal defense attorney and Armenian- American organized and filed the class-action lawsuit for survivors of the Armenian genocide, called the settlement one of his biggest successes.

Another class lawsuit has been filed to recover life insurance benefits that were wrongfully withheld. Victoria Insurance Company is the 10th insurance company sued on behalf of victims of the Armenian Genocide. The New York Life settlement is just the first of many more to come including a suit filed by AXA Financial.

Despite strong evidence and the demands of Armenian leaders, the Turkish government has never acknowledged the extent of the genocide, nor the role played by the Turkish army in carrying it out.

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