Holocaust Effort Gets Judicial Support, No Enforcement Yet

February 9, 2001

On Feb. 7, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Sacramento backed a California law forcing insurers to disclose policies sold in Europe before World War II.

The law, which was adopted by the Legislature in 1999 but blocked by a federal judge, is part of an effort to gain compensation for Holocaust victims.

The judge blocked the law saying it interfered with the federal government’s control over foreign affairs. However, the court has now overturned that ruling, dismissing most of the insurance industry’s arguments against the measure. But the appeals court did not go as far as to lift the order blocking enforcement of the Holocaust Victim Relief Act.

It remains to be seen whether the measure would place too heavy a burden on insurance companies. The information provided by insurers doing business in California will allow the state to notify Holocaust victims or their heirs that they may be eligible for payment on the policies. Some of the insurers reportedly opposed to California’s measure include Allianz AG, AXA, Generali, Winterthur Leben, Zurich Financial Services and their subsidiaries.

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