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Samuelian Comments on New York Life Insurance Company's Settlement

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  • Samuelian Comments on New York Life Insurance Company's Settlement

    State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814
    Contact: Tony Lee
    Tel: (559) 240-1903

    March 10, 2004

    Samuelian Comments on New York Life Insurance Company's Settlement

    Armenian Policyholders who perished during the Armenian Genocide One Step
    Closer to Justice

    Fresno - California State Assemblymember Steve Samuelian (R-Clovis) released
    a statement recently regarding the State's Insurance Commissioner, John
    Garamendi's announcement that a $20 million dollar settlement on behalf of
    survivors of victims of the Armenian Genocide was reached. In his statement,
    Samuelian expressed his satisfaction with the long-awaited outcome of the
    litigation between the descendants of the victims of the Armenian Genocide
    and the New York Life Insurance Company and went on to commended all
    involved who worked relentlessly to insure that New York Life be held
    accountable to it's former policyholders.

    In particular, Samuelian commended the lead plaintiff Mr. Martin Marootian,
    who in 1999 along with his friend and attorney Vartges Yeghiayan, initiated
    widely-publicized lawsuit against the insurance company on behalf of his
    uncle, a victim of the Armenian Genocide.

    Marootian's uncle's case is one of thousands that spans clear back to
    shortly before the beginning of World War I. It was then, that the New York
    Life Insurance Company began selling thousands of life insurance policies to
    Armenians living in the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The War, sparked
    international chaos, and allowed the Turkish government the opportunity to
    initiate the systematic genocide campaign of more than a million Armenians
    in 1915. Thousands of those that perished happened to be policyholders with
    New York Life, but the Company disavowed any obligation to the victims and
    more than 2,200 policies went "unresolved" till 1999, when Marootian began
    his pursuit of justice.

    Marootian's seemingly simple case became increasingly complicated. Had it
    not been for the intervention of many prominent attorneys, elected officials
    who enacted new legislation, and the backing of an increasingly powerful
    Armenian community and its grassroots organizations, Marootian's endeavor
    would not have ended so successfully.

    In his statement, Assemblymember Samuelian said, "I commend Mr. Marootian,
    along with all of the attorneys, the families of those involved, and the
    fine grassroots organizations such as the Armenian National Committee of
    America and the Armenian Assembly who led the public charge to raise
    awareness of this issue." Samuelian also said, "I am glad that the New York
    Life Insurance Company made a principled decision to properly honor the
    memory of it's former policyholders through this $20 million restitution
    settlement. Those 1.5 million innocent lives that perished at the hands of
    the Ottoman Turk Government during the Armenian Genocide of 1915 were
    indeed, as New York Life's then Vice-President put it - "prematurely
    terminated" at the hands of the Turks" and thus entitled to full payment of
    their life insurance policies. This settlement does not vanquish the pain of
    the descendents of those who were massacred but it does restore one's faith,
    that in the end, justice prevails."

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