Deadline Nears for Armenian Insurance Settlement Fund Claims

Armenian Insurance Settlement Fund Board member Paul Krekorian announced that March 16 is the absolute deadline to submit a claim for payment under the class action settlement in Marootian v. New York Life Insurance Co.

The Marootian case was a class action suit filed in United States District Court by the heirs of Armenia’s who had purchased life insurance from New York Life in the Ottoman Empire between 1875 and 1915. The heirs contend that on the deaths of the policyholders–many of whom were murdered by Turks during the Armenian genocide–New York Life did not pay the benefits on these policies. Last year–New York Life agreed to settle the class action suit by paying a total of $20 million–including up to $11 million for the heirs of the policyholders and at least $3 million for specified Armenian charities.

"The beneficiaries of these policies have waited 90 years for justice," said Settlement Fund Board member Krekorian–an attorney who also serves as Vice President of the Burbank Board of Education. "It would be a great tragedy if their efforts were frustrated now because they missed a simple deadline and waived their legitimate legal rights," Krekorian said.

The heirs of policyholders may be considered for a share of benefits under this settlement only if they submit a Notice of Claim form by March 16. The form may be obtained by calling the toll free information line at 1-866-422-0124 or visiting the settlement fund website at www.armenianinsurancesettlement.com. Claims may come from anywhere in the world–and it is not necessary that complete documentation be included with the Notice of Claim form. After the Settlement Fund Board receives the Notice of Claim form–the claimant will be informed about other steps that are required in the process.

The settlement fund website includes a partial list of New York Life policyholders from the relevant era–and those who believe they may be heirs can search for their ancestors on this list. However–it is not necessary that their ancestor appear on the list in order to submit a claim. A claim might still be approved if the heir has some other evidence that their ancestor was a policyholder and payment was not made–even if the ancestor does not appear on the list.

The Settlement Fund Board is an independent panel of three Armenian community leaders appointed by California State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi. The Settlement Fund Board is not affiliated in any way with the lawyers who handled the class action suit–and the Board members were not involved in negotiating the terms of the settlement. The Settlement Fund Board is an entirely independent panel that will evaluate all of the claims of individual heirs and award the funds to those who meet the qualifications of the agreement. The three members of the Board are Paul Krekorian; attorney and law professor Berj Boyajian; and physician and health care activist Viken Manjikian.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement–$3 million has already been distributed in equal shares to the AGBU–the Armenian Relief Society–the Armenian Education Foundation–the Armenian Missionary Association–the Armenian Catholic Church–the Eastern and Western Dioceses of the Armenian Church of North America–and the Eastern and Western Prelacies of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

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