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Wednesday, June 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

More Appellate Scrutiny of Armenian Genocide

(CN) - The 9th Circuit agreed Monday to take a rare third look at a class action for insurance benefits filed in California by survivors of the Armenian genocide.

A full panel of 9th Circuit judges will reconsider a three-judge panel's reversal late last year of its own 2009 ruling in the case.

That December 2010 decision found no federal policy forbidding California from recognizing the World War I-era killing of more than 500,000 Armenians as a genocide.

Vazken Movsesian and other Californians of Armenian descent sought damages for bad faith, breach of contract and constructive trust in 2003 from two German insurers owned by Munich Re. The suit claimed that California law gave victims until the end of 2010 to file insurance claims related to the mass extermination of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923.

The District Court found that the foreign affairs doctrine did not pre-empt the state law, but the original appellate panel dismissed the claims as pre-empted by federal foreign policy. On rehearing, however, the panel found "no express federal policy forbidding states to use the term 'Armenian genocide,' and reversed.

A majority of nonrecused active judges voted to rehear the issue en banc, triggering the formation of new, 11-judge panel.

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