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Holocaust claims dispute settlement approved


NEW YORK--A New York federal judge has approved a settlement of a class action lawsuit over Holocaust insurance claims involving Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A.

U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels for the Southern District of New York on Tuesday approved the agreement, which contains a special extension of a claims-filing deadline in light of the anticipated opening of the Bad Arolsen archive in Germany.

According to the agreement, claims based on documents obtained from the archive must be submitted within six months of the opening but by no later than August 31, 2008. The deadline for all other claims against the Trieste, Italy-based insurer is March 31, 2007.

"One important limitation is that if Generali has already compensated an individual for their policy, they are not eligible for further compensation in connection with this settlement," said a statement from Kohn, Swift & Graf P.C., the Philadelphia law firm that represented the plaintiffs.

"To date, Generali has paid over $130 million on approximately 5,500 claims made through the International Commission on Holocaust-era Insurance Claims, which was established in 1998 to address this complex issue and includes Jewish and Holocaust survivor organizations as well as the state of Israel and U.S. insurance regulators," the insurer's statement said.

About 3,300 people have made new claims through the lawsuit process, according to attorneys' estimates.

"Generali views this settlement as an important step in its longstanding commitment to bring fair closure to the Holocaust-era claims process," Generali also said in the statement.

Some representatives of claimants, however, have said that insurers have not done enough to help persecuted people and their beneficiaries learn of the existence of insurance policies and to pay them.