LOS ANGELES—The Loyola Law School Armenian Students Association in conjunction with the Center for the Study of Law and Genocide will host a discussion on the legal implications of the recent 9th Circuit Court ruling which effectively bars Americans of Armenian descent from seeking the return of stolen Armenian Genocide era insurance assets through U.S. courts. The panel lecture, open to the public, will take place on April 17 from 7 to 9 p.m. on the Loyola campus (919 Albany St. Los Angeles, 90015).
In late February, the Court found that a California law, which extended the statute of limitations for Armenian Genocide victims and their heirs to bring claims against corporations for unpaid benefits, “intrudes on the federal government’s exclusive power to conduct and regulate foreign affairs.” The decision cited Turkey’s threats against countries which seek to properly commemorate this crime and President Obama’s reticence to refer to the crime as ‘genocide’ in his annual commemorative statements as among the reasons for their conclusion that the law “has a direct impact upon foreign relations and may well adversely affect the power of the central government to deal with those problems.”
Panelists will include law professor and Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Genocide Stan Goldman as well as Plaintiffs’ attorneys Vartkes Yeghiayan and Lee Crawford Boyd. Steve Dadaian of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) will serve as moderator.
“Today, the struggle for justice is not about recognition, it’s a legal battle for reparations and restitution. The 9th Circuit Court decision highlights the consequences of the Executive branch’s refusal to properly label the Armenian Genocide, however these cases will only be the beginning,” said Vaché Thomassian of the Loyola Armenian Law Students Association.
The 9th Circuit case Movsesian v. Versicherung AG involves life insurance claims dating to the Armenian Genocide era. In 2000, California passed a law, which extended the statute of limitations for life insurance claims that were never paid out, in some cases because insurance companies insisted heirs produce death certificates of relatives, who were murdered during the Armenian Genocide, before honoring the policies. The California statute, which was introduced by former State Senator and current Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal Charles ‘Chuck’ Poochigian and former State Senator and current Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), allowed California residents to file until December 31, 2010. The law has since been amended through legislation introduced by State Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-43), extending the statute of limitations to file claims until December 31, 2016. Defendants German insurance companies, which are being represented by the Los Angeles office of Mayer Brown, have been joined by the Republic of Turkey in their attempts to strike down California’s law, claiming there is an “express federal policy” to prohibit states from any reference to the Armenian Genocide.