The Armenian Insurance Settlement Fund Board released the sum of $3 million last week for distribution to nine Armenian charitable organizations. The funds were the first distributions from the proceeds of the 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 Armenians who had purchased life insurance from New York Life in the Ottoman Empire prior to 1915. The heirs contend that upon 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, at least $3 million for specified Armenian charities, and $6 million for attorneys’ fees and administrative expenses.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the initial $3 million distribution is to be divided equally by the AGBU, the Armenian Relief Society, the Armenian Education Foundation, the Armenian Missionary Association, the Armenian Catholic Church, both the Eastern and Western Dioceses of the Armenian Church of North America, and both the Eastern and Western Prelacies of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Settlement Fund Board released these funds to the attorneys for the plaintiffs in the case, who will deliver the checks to the charities. In addition, the Settlement Fund Board released the funds allocated by the settlement agreement to various named plaintiffs, including lead plaintiff Martin Marootian.
The Settlement Fund Board is an independent panel appointed by California State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi for the purpose of evaluating the claims of individuals who contend they are heirs who are entitled to compensation from New York Life under the agreement and distributing the funds allocated by the settlement agreement. The Board members are attorney and law professor Berj Boyajian; attorney and Burbank Board of Education Vice President Paul Krekorian; and physician and health care activist Viken Manjikian.
The Board is scheduled to begin considering individual claims in March. Anyone who believes there is even a possibility that they are the heir of a New York Life policyholder whose benefits were not paid must submit a “Notice of Claim” form to the Settlement Fund Board in order to avoid waiving the right to recover. All Notice of Claim forms must be postmarked no later than March 16, 2005.
For further information or to obtain a Notice of Claim form, please call the toll free information line at 1-866-422-0124 or visit www.armenianinsurancesettlement.com. The website includes a partial list of policyholders, but it is not necessary that your ancestor’s name appear on the list in order to submit a Notice of Claim.