California State Senate

September 20, 2000

Senate Bill No. 1915

An act to add Section 354.4 to the Code of Civil Procedure, relating to insurance for Armenian Genocide victims, and declaring the urgency thereof, to take effect immediately.

[Approved by Governor September 18, 2000, Filed with Secretary of State September 20, 2000.]


SB 1915, Poochigian. Insurance: Armenian Genocide victims.
Existing law authorizes any Holocaust victim, as defined, or anheir or beneficiary of a Holocaust victim, who resides in this stateand has a claim arising out of an insurance policy or policiespurchased or in effect in Europe before 1945 from a specified insurerto bring a legal action to recover on that claim in any superiorcourt of the state for the county in which the plaintiff or one ofthe plaintiffs resides, which shall be vested with jurisdiction overthat action until its completion or resolution. Existing law alsoprovides that any claim of this type shall not be dismissed forfailure to comply with the applicable statute of limitation if theaction is commenced on or before December 31, 2010.
This bill would enact similar provisions applicable to anyArmenian Genocide victim, as defined, or an heir or beneficiary ofthat victim, who resides in this state and has a claim arising out ofan insurance policy or policies purchased or in effect in Europe orAsia between 1875 and 1923.
This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately asan urgency statute.


SECTION 1. (a) The Legislature recognizes that during the periodfrom 1915 to 1923, many persons of Armenian ancestry residing in thehistoric Armenian homeland then situated in the Ottoman Empire werevictims of massacre, torture, starvation, death marches, and exile.This period is known as the Armenian Genocide.
(b) The Legislature further recognizes that thousands of ArmenianGenocide survivors and the heirs of Armenian Genocide victims areresidents or citizens of the State of California. The Legislaturefurther recognizes and finds that these people have, too often, beendeprived of their entitlement to benefits under insurance policiesissued in Europe and Asia by insurance companies prior to, and duringthe period of time of, the Armenian Genocide. California has anoverwhelming public policy interest in ensuring that its residentsand citizens who are claiming entitlement to benefits under policiesissued to Armenian Genocide victims are treated reasonably andfairly and that those legal obligations are honored.
(c) It is the specific intent of the Legislature to ensure thatArmenian Genocide victims and their heirs be permitted to have anexpeditious, inexpensive, and fair forum in which to resolve theirclaims for benefits under these policies by allowing actions to bebrought in California irrespective of any contrary forum selectionprovision contained in the policies themselves. It is the finding ofthe Legislature that enforcement of forum selection provisions inthose policies would work an undue, unreasonable, and unjust hardshipon Armenian Genocide victims and their heirs who are residents ofCalifornia and that those provisions are against public policy andare hereby made unenforceable with respect to the policies as towhich this act applies.
(d) To the extent that the statute of limitations regardingcontractual or tort claims arising from the denial of benefits underthe policies is extended by this act, that extension of thelimitations period is intended to be applied retroactively,irrespective of whether the claims were otherwise barred by anyapplicable statute of limitations under any other provision of lawprior to the enactment of this act.
SEC. 2. Section 354.4 is added to the Code of Civil Procedure, toread:
354.4. (a) The following definitions govern the construction ofthis section:
(1) "Armenian Genocide victim" means any person of Armenian orother ancestry living in the Ottoman Empire during the period of 1915to 1923, inclusive, who died, was deported, or escaped to avoidpersecution during that period.
(2) "Insurer" means an insurance provider doing business in thestate, or whose contacts in the state satisfy the constitutionalrequirements for jurisdiction, that sold life, property, liability,health, annuities, dowry, educational, casualty, or any otherinsurance covering persons or property to persons in Europe or Asiaat any time between 1875 and 1923.
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any ArmenianGenocide victim, or heir or beneficiary of an Armenian Genocidevictim, who resides in this state and has a claim arising out of aninsurance policy or policies purchased or in effect in Europe or Asiabetween 1875 and 1923 from an insurer described in paragraph (2) ofsubdivision (a), may bring a legal action or may continue a pendinglegal action to recover on that claim in any court of competentjurisdiction in this state, which court shall be deemed the properforum for that action until its completion or resolution.
(c) Any action, including any pending action brought by anArmenian Genocide victim or the heir or beneficiary of an ArmenianGenocide victim, whether a resident or nonresident of this state,seeking benefits under the insurance policies issued or in effectbetween 1875 and 1923 shall not be dismissed for failure to complywith the applicable statute of limitation, provided the action isfiled on or before December 31, 2010.
(d) The provisions of this section are severable. If anyprovision of this section or its application is held invalid, thatinvalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that canbe given effect without the invalid provision or application.
SEC. 3. This act is an urgency statute necessary for the immediatepreservation of the public peace, health, or safety within themeaning of Article IV of the Constitution and shall go into immediateeffect. The facts constituting the necessity are:
In order to provide just compensation to aging Armenian Genocidevictims and their heirs, it is necessary that this act take effect immediately.

Read the official resolution of the California Senate Bill 1915 from the State of California's official web site.