Prominent Lawyer Sues LA Times Over Explosive Armenian Insurance Scandal

Mark Geragos, a prominent attorney for plaintiffs in Southern California, has filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Times and three reporters over allegations that the newspaper used him in a series of reports about a $17.5 million insurance claims settlement defamed to the genocide of the Armenians. Geragos and Brian Kabateck were two attorneys involved in groundbreaking cases that allowed Armenians to recover insurance payments for the deaths of their family members in a genocide that ravaged their country more than a century ago.

According to the lawsuit, in March 2021 the newspaper ran stories that Geragos allegedly defamed and mispainted. The articles alleged that corrupt acts had spoiled reparations by diverting funds to outsiders. The lawsuit further alleges that the Times made allegations against Geragos and pressured the California Bar Association to open a public inquiry into the long-closed matter, and then relied on that inquiry to repeatedly defame Geragos in subsequent articles.

The lawsuit alleges that “the totality of the circumstances, including the repeated defamation and portrayal of Mr. Geragos in a false light, in the face of credible evidence disproving the account put forward by the LAT, demonstrates the malice of the defendants towards him.” Geragos is seeking damages for state lawsuits alleging defamation, invasion of privacy through false lighting, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The stories about the lawsuit against AXA SA, a French insurance company, were based “on unreliable information from witnesses, the veracity of which should be questioned,” according to the lawsuit. “Furthermore, the LAT ignored the information and evidence from Mr. Geragos’ offices and published the story they had already written in total disregard of the truth.”

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In September 2021, the California Bar Association announced it was investigating Geragos and Kabateck for dispersing insurance settlements. In announcing the ethics investigation, the Bar Association thanked the newspaper “for its excellent reporting on the distribution of settlement funds for the Armenian genocide.” However, the Bar Association emphasized that the announcement was not “indication of wrongdoing by the lawyers being investigated”.

The lawsuit said that Geragos and Kabateck had uncovered the theft of settlement funds by a same-class attorney, whom the couple was suing to recover the funds and ensure redress was made. Geragos claims the newspaper’s claims were based on unreliable information and ignored evidence from its offices.

Geragos said in a statement he was confident the discovery and lawsuit would show the Times had an agenda motivated by malice. The newspaper declined to comment on the application.

Geragos is represented by Geragos & Geragos APC, a Los Angeles law firm. The lawsuit raises important questions about the role of the media in forming public opinion and the responsibility of journalists to ensure their reporting is based on reliable and accurate information. It remains to be seen how the lawsuit will be resolved, but it will have far-reaching implications for the legal profession and the media industry.