Movsesian, et al. v. Victoria Versicherung AG, et al. (amicus) Historic Case

At a Glance

Current Status 

Defendants’ petition for rehearing en banc is pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Date Filed: 

December, 2003

Case Description 

Plaintiff Vazken Movsesian and other descendants of the Armenian genocide filed a class action against German corporations Victoria Verisherung AG and Ergo Verischerungsgruppe AG, and their parent company, Munchener Ruckverischerungs-Gesellschaft Aktiengesellschaft, for unpaid benefits from insurance policies they issued.  Their claims include breach of written contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment, and related claims.  The district court allowed some of Plaintiffs’ claims to proceed, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals precluded Plaintiffs’ claims by striking down the California procedural statute providing jurisdiction and extending the statute of limitations over insurance policy claims by Armenian genocide victims.  The Appellate Court found that the statute was preempted under the foreign affairs doctrine because its references to the “Armenian Genocide” contradict the U.S. Executive’s purported policy preference.  This preference, it found, was expressed in statements and letters by the Clinton and Bush II Administrations opposing proposed House resolutions referencing the Armenian Genocide, resolutions which were never brought to a vote.

CCR litigates many significant international human rights cases, including those asserting state law claims, such as Bowoto v. Chevron Corp., and Saleh v. CACI Int’l Inc.

Case Timeline

February 11, 2011
CCR and ERI file an amicus brief in support of Plaintiffs and opposing the Defendants’ petition, arguing that the state law cannot be preempted by statements and letters because they don’t have the force of law.
February 11, 2011
CCR and ERI file an amicus brief in support of Plaintiffs and opposing the Defendants’ petition, arguing that the state law cannot be preempted by statements and letters because they don’t have the force of law.
December 10, 2010
The Ninth Circuit grants Plaintiffs’ request for rehearing.
December 10, 2010
The Ninth Circuit grants Plaintiffs’ request for rehearing.
The Ninth Circuit panel reverses itself, finding that there is no express federal policy forbidding states to use the term “Armenian Genocide,” and affirming the denial of defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint.
September 21, 2009
CCR and ERI file an amicus brief in support of Plaintiffs’ request for rehearing
September 21, 2009
CCR and ERI file an amicus brief in support of Plaintiffs’ request for rehearing
CCR and ERI argue that state law should not be preempted by federal action unless it has the force of law. Amici further argued that statements and letters do not have the force of law, unlike the Constitution, federal laws, treaties, and Executive agreements. The Ninth Circuit granted Plaintiffs' request for rehearing.
September 10, 2009
Plaintiffs petition the Court of Appeals for panel rehearing and rehearing en banc.
September 10, 2009
Plaintiffs petition the Court of Appeals for panel rehearing and rehearing en banc.
December, 2003
Plaintiff Vazken Movsesian and other descendants of the Armenian genocide filed a class action against German corporations Victoria Verisherung AG and Ergo Verischerungsgruppe AG, and their parent company, Munchener Ruckverischerungs-Gesellschaft Aktiengesellschaft, for unpaid benefits from insurance policies they issued.
December, 2003
Plaintiff Vazken Movsesian and other descendants of the Armenian genocide filed a class action against German corporations Victoria Verisherung AG and Ergo Verischerungsgruppe AG, and their parent company, Munchener Ruckverischerungs-Gesellschaft Aktiengesellschaft, for unpaid benefits from insurance policies they issued.
January 3, 2001
Defendants file a petition for rehearing en banc.
January 3, 2001
Defendants file a petition for rehearing en banc.