BY MARK KELLAM
LOS ANGELES (Glendale News Press)—After months of legal wrangling, a multimillion-dollar legal dispute involving a compensation fund for descendants of Armenian Genocide victims has hit another snag: more than 1,700 of the 13,500 claims cannot be found.
In U.S. District Court on Monday, attorney Roman Silberfeld said 1,766 claims “cannot be accounted for” after 41 boxes of claims were moved from the offices of attorneys Mark Geragos and Brian Kabateck to a neutral location at the Loyola Law School.
Silberfeld said he has documentation that the fund’s administrator, Glendale resident Persagh Kartalian, transferred 51 boxes of insurance claims at one point, but Silberfeld isn’t sure of their destination. It now appears that 10 of the boxes are missing.
As part of an earlier agreement between the two sides, all claims of more than $15,000 will be audited for possible inaccuracies. Originally, Silberfeld’s client, Glendale-based attorney Vartkes Yeghiayan, wanted all of the claims made to a compensation fund set up by France-based insurer Axa S.A. checked for discrepancies.
Silberfeld asked Kabateck to double-check the offices to see if the missing claims can be found.
If they don’t turn up, Silberfeld requested that Kartalian be asked what he did with the files.
U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder ordered a deposition with Kartalian to answer questions about the administration of the compensation fund. The attorneys have already spent about 12 hours with Kartalian, questioning him in an informal setting.
Now a formal deposition will be conducted, which can last up to four hours, Snyder said.
Silberfeld said he can do it in less than the maximum time.
“We now have some specific questions for him,” he said.
Kartalian has also been ordered to turn over all records, including electronic, about the fund.
“He undertook this obligation and he’s going to have to follow it through,” Snyder said.
She also agreed with Silberfeld’s request for Pacific Western Bank to send him images of the backs of checks that have been sent to claimants to make sure they have been cashed properly.
Kabateck decried not knowing about the missing claims or request for the images of the backs of checks until about 45 minutes before the hearing.
Geragos, Yeghiayan and Kabateck were on the same legal team that in 2005 brought a lawsuit that resulted in Axa’s compensation fund, which was set up to pay claims that it failed to compensate descendants of Armenian Genocide victims who bought policies between 1875 and 1923.
The next hearing on the matter is scheduled for April 2.