A federal court must wait to settle a case brought by Holocaust victims until all known potential class members are notified by mail of the deal, a federal appeals court has ruled.
The two-page order by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the notice of settlement given to potential class members appeared to be inadequate.
The court directed that notices be sent first-class mail by an Italian insurance company that has paid some $175 million in Holocaust-era insurance claims through the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims and other channels.
The letters must be sent by Nov. 26 and responses must be received by Dec. 26. The appeals court would take up other issues on appeal early next year after the lower court conducts a settlement fairness hearing by Jan. 7.
The insurance company, Assicurazioni Generali, said in a statement that it was pleased that the appeals court “provided a clear path and expeditious timetable” to notify potential additional class members.
“Generali is hopeful that this expeditious process will allow the settlement to be finalized early in 2008 and that applicants entitled to payment under the settlement can be paid as promptly as practicable thereafter,” it said.
Robert Swift, a Philadelphia lawyer who represents plaintiffs who approve of the settlement, did not immediately return a phone message Tuesday.
Swift has said the settlement was the last of large cases brought in American courts to collect damages from companies which aided Nazis during the Holocaust. Those companies have been accused of enabling Nazis to steal the assets of Jews, forced laborers and slaves during World War II.
In February, U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels in Manhattan approved the settlement after listening to lawyers on all sides, including an attorney for six objectors who said the deal would deny justice for tens of thousands of victims.
Samuel Dubbin, a lawyer for six victims objecting to the plan, did not immediately return a telephone call for comment.
On the Net:
International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims: http://www.icheic.org
International Tracing Service: http://www.its-arolsen.org
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