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CONSUMERS: 1999 PRESS RELEASE

For Release: June 17, 1999
Media Calls Only: 916-429-3566

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER QUACKENBUSH LAUDS SUPREME COURT DECISION REMOVING OBSTACLES FROM HOLOCAUST VICTIMS SEEKING JUSTICE

Decision Confirms Trial Date of February 9, 2000 for Stern v. Generali Lawsuit

SACRAMENTO -- California Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush today applauded the decision of the California Supreme Court to deny two petitions of Assicurazioni Generali (Generali), which requested the Court to dismiss or stay a bad faith lawsuit that is pending against Generali in the Los Angeles Superior Court.

"I am pleased that the court has eliminated yet another obstacle impeding progress toward getting claims paid for the heirs of Mor Stern, and for other survivors and heirs seeking restitution of unpaid insurance claims," said Commissioner Quackenbush. "The highest court in California has brought a measure of justice that has been so long denied, thereby preserving our jurisdiction to promptly address the misconduct of insurance companies against the families of Holocaust victims."

The lawsuit against Generali was filed by the heirs of Mor Stern, a Holocaust victim, claiming that Generali has intentionally refused to pay the benefits owed under several life insurance policies issued to Mr. Stern prior to World War II. Generali had contended that the California courts could not exercise jurisdiction over it, and that the Court had no authority to set a February 9, 2000 trial date.

Commissioner Quackenbush has led the effort on several fronts to ensure that Holocaust-era insurance policies are re-opened and settled by companies. Pursuant to legislation authored by State Senator Tom Hayden (SB 1530), he has coordinated California’s effort at the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC) to represent the needs of survivors and to support, among other things, the importance of collecting information, outreach, and setting up a registry so that restitution on Holocaust-era claims can be made promptly, accurately and fully.

Commissioner Quackenbush spearheaded the establishment of the ICHEIC by bringing the first round of insurance companies to the table to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to begin setting in place a process for paying claims.

Commissioner Quackenbush co-chaired the Audit Committee of the ICHEIC, which has completed its work in preparation to oversee the information provided by ICHEIC-member insurance companies that will ultimately lead to claim resolution and final settlement. And he commenced an outreach program to survivors, supported by the 28-member Holocaust Insurance Settlement Alliance, at a unity event attended by Governor Gray Davis, Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Treasurer Phil Angelides, Senator Tom Hayden, and Assemblyman Wally Knox.

Commissioner Quackenbush has also supported a series of successive victories with respect to litigation on the Holocaust insurance restitution front, including the following:

  • An amicus brief filed in support of the Stern family lawsuit;
  • Papers and arguments submitted supporting the Friedman, Sladek and Babos lawsuits, which the Los Angeles Superior Court ruled in favor of in early June by denying Generali’s motion to dismiss all three cases.

To access more information about the Holocaust insurance issue be sure to log on to the California Department of Insurance’s website at www.insurance.ca.gov. Then click on the red button labeled "What’s Hot" and click on "Holocaust-Era Insurance Claims." To file a claim for an unpaid Holocaust-era insurance policy, please call the Department of Insurance at
1-888-CDI-INFO (234-4636).

 

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