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Armenian genocide victims' descendants may sue

December 10, 2010 |  3:09 pm

Descendants of Armenian genocide victims may sue insurance companies for unpaid claims, a federal appeals court ruled Friday in a rare reversal of an earlier decision.

The same three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said in August 2009 that lawsuits were barred by a federal government policy against legal reference to the Armenian genocide, despite laws in California and 41 other states officially recognizing the massacre of 1.2 million Armenians that began in 1915 amid the chaotic collapse of the Ottoman empire.

"There is no clearly established, express federal policy forbidding state references to the Armenian genocide," the judges decided on reconsideration in a 2-1 ruling.

An attorney for the Armenian-American plaintiffs from Southern California said the decision was "extraordinarily unusual" and could open the doors of state courts to an array of unsettled issues from the massacre nearly a century ago as the ruling "transcends this little insurance case."

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-- Carol J. Williams

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