Ninth Circuit Strikes Down California "Armenian Genocide" Insurance Claims Statute

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In an 11-0 en banc published decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down California Code of Civil Procedure section 354.4 which purported to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Section 354.4 revived the statute of limitations for claims made by “Armenian Genocide victims” or their heirs, voided contractual forum-selection clauses, and vested California courts with jurisdiction to hear disputes regarding such claims.

Overturning contrary rulings in the same case by the District Court and a 3-judge Ninth Circuit panel, the en banc panel in Movsesian v. Versicherung AG, Case No. 07-56722, held that because section 354.4 does not concern an area of traditional state responsibility and intrudes on the field of foreign affairs entrusted exclusively to the federal government, section 354.4 is preempted under the foreign affairs doctrine.

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