Supreme Court urged to review Lower Court decision on Armenian Genocide-era insurance claims case

Igor TimofeyevThe plaintiffs in the Armenian Genocide-era insurance claims case filed an incisive and thoughtfully argued brief urging the Supreme Court to “review and correct” the Ninth Circuit’s 2012 decision striking down a California law extending the statute of limitations on such matters, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The plaintiff’s brief came in response to one filed by the U.S. Solicitor General less than two weeks ago, which urged the Supreme Court not to review the case.  The Supreme Court is set to consider all submissions dealing with the Armenian Genocide-era insurance case on June 6th, and will issue a decision whether or not to take the case soon thereafter.

“This case raises important questions of states’ ability to enact laws for the benefit of their own citizens that do not conflict with the federal government’s foreign policy or actions,” noted Igor Timofeyev of Paul Hastings LLP, who is serving as the lead counsel for plaintiffs on a pro-bono basis.  “Along with several Attorneys General from around the country, we believe the Supreme Court should resolve this issue.”

In the 19-page response, plaintiffs argue that while the Solicitor General’s brief does not cite any Congressional or Presidential action that would have blocked California’s ability to extend the statute of limitations on Genocide-era insurance claims, the Government is advancing a “revolutionary proposition that states lack all authority to enact legislation concerning their citizens’ private claims if they originate in events that occurred abroad.”  The Solicitor General’s position “advances an unprecedented theory of federal foreign affairs preemption” that is “antithetical to the respect due to states as separate sovereigns,” the brief continued.

The plaintiffs’ response to the Solicitor General’s brief, as well as all filings associated with this case, can be viewed at:

“We would like to thank Igor Timofeyev and the team at Paul Hastings LLP for their expert legal representation,” said ANCA Government Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian.  “Whether or not the Supreme Court agrees to review this case – which will be based on federalism grounds and not the merits of the claims – we will not be deterred from pursuing what even the Solicitor General and lower courts have recognized as unremedied claims.”

The Armenian Genocide-era insurance claims case has traveled a long and complex legal path, which has included three separate and conflicting opinions from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the most recent on February 23, 2012. That decision struck down the California law extending the statute of limitations for certain life insurance claims based on an unprecedented expansion of the rarely invoked doctrine of foreign affairs field preemption.  Defendant Munich Re, a German insurance company, is represented by Neil Soltman of Mayer Brown’s Los Angeles office.


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