LOS ANGELES – Nine Armenian charitable groups will receive $3 million over the next two weeks as part of a $20 million settlement between an insurance company and descendants of Armenians killed nearly 90 years ago in the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
Five organizations on the East Coast will each receive checks for more than $333,000 during a ceremony Wednesday in New York, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. The remaining groups will receive payments at a second event being organized in Los Angeles.
The organizations include New York’s Armenian General Benevolent Union, New Jersey’s Armenian Missionary Association of America, Inc., and the Armenian Education Foundation, based in Glendale.
“As the grandson of two genocide survivors, I’m particularly pleased to be handing money to these organizations, because these kinds of organizations helped my grandparents when they first arrived here,” said Brian Kabateck, an attorney in the lawsuit.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they filed the class-action lawsuit to raise awareness of the deaths as well as to win unpaid life insurance benefits from New York Life Insurance Co.
They contend that 1.5 million Armenians were killed in an act of genocide by the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Turkey rejects the genocide claim and maintains that Armenians were killed in civil unrest during the collapse of the empire.
The legal agreement approved last July by U.S. District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder is believed to be the first ever in connection with the disputed event.
At least $11 million was set aside for heirs of some 2,400 policyholders while $4 million was to cover legal fees. Another $3 million was earmarked for charities, with $2 million used for administrative costs and anything not spent on expenses going to charities.
Potential heirs of policyholders have until March 15 to file a claim for a portion of the settlement.