Survivors File Suit Against French Insurance Company

GLENDALE–American descendant of the Armenian Genocide filed a class lawsuit today in Los Angeles Federal Central District Court against AXA–one of the world’s leading insurance company. 87 years after members of their families were brutally killed in the Armenian Genocide–the Kurkdjian–Yirikian and Topadjian families filed the lawsuit to recover the life insurance benefits that were wrongfully withheld. The suit is filed on behalf of all Armenia’s who owned Life Policies by AXA and its "related companies"–who were massacred in the Armenian Genocide–and whose beneficiaries were never paid the insurance benefits.

At the end of the nineteenth century–AXA–through its subsidiaries of ‘Equitable Life Assurance Company’ (US) and ‘L’Union-Vie’ (French) among others–expanded its operations into the Turkish Ottoman Empire. AXA targeted ethnic Catholic Armenia’s in the Turkish Ottoman Empire for the sale of its insurance policies. By 1915–it is reported–AXA had sold more than 11,000 policies in Turkey. Almost all of these policyholders–the complain contends–were massacred when the government launched a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing and killed more than 1.5 million Armenia’s. Plaintiffs As described in the lawsuit–Sarkis Kurkdjian–textile manufacturer from Arabkir–purchased a policy in 1911 worth 4,000 French Fran’s. On June 13–1915 he was massacred. According to the lawsuit–the Kurkdjian family tried for more than 70 years to obtain the promised benefits–but AXA demanded that the survivors produce nonexistent documen’s–like death and non-mobilization certificates.

The Kurkdjian family did obtain the death and the non-mobilization certificates. Death certificate was issue by two deportation companions of Sarkis Kurkdjian in 1928. They certify that "He died during the deportation and they dug his grave with their hands and buried him without the benefit of a religious service". They also gave a certificate stating that Kurkdjian was never mobilized into the Ottoman Military. In spite of numerous attempts AXA’s final response to the Kurkdjian family on October 16–2000 was "The thirty-year Statute of Limitation had run in 1945."

Artin Yirikian–a merchant and manufacturer from Adana–grandfather of Krikor Yirikian bought Life insurance from L’Union-Vie in 1910 for 3000 FF. He died in the Armenian Genocide. It is 85 years that efforts by his heirs have produced no result.

Leon Arabian–farmer from Adana–grandfather of Anik Topajian bought life insurance from L’Union-Vie in 1911 for 3000 FF. and paid premiums until deported in the Armenian Genocide. AXA Admits Liability According to a letter sent by the Director of Union-Vie to the French Minister of Foreign Affairs on April 11–1922:

"The amount of risk insured by the ‘Union- Vie’ in the Ottoman Empire reached on the 31st December 1915 (French Fran’s) Fr. 42,335,000 ($8,000,000) and the whole of these risks was spread over 10,899 contracts…The greatest number of our contracts are on the lives of Armenia’s.

‘L’Union-Vie’ acknowledges its liability for these massacre deaths under its policies of insurance as "Deaths undoubtedly caused through the Turk’s fault–and not through the free action of the normal laws of mortality". It concluded–"It would be unworthy of a great company–contrary to equity and strongly prejudicial to the prestige and renown of our country–to refuse the paymen’s."

On January 1–1916 Equitable Life Assurance Company acknowledged that they had outstanding 371 policies for $689,883 of insurance in Turkey.

AXA never paid the benefits due on thousands of policies sold before the Armenian Genocide. AXA is holding millions of dollars–that does not belong to them.

Kurkdjian–Yirikian and Topadjian–represented by Glendale attorneys Vartkes Yeghiayan and Rita Mahdessian seek legal redress for an order requiring AXA and all of its "related companies" to identify the insurance benefits which belong to the Armenia’s–to identify the rightful heirs–and to pay the benefits to the Armenian Genocide victims.


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