Holocaust-era Insurance

Collecting Life Insurance Benefits for Heirs of Holocaust Victims: Stern v. Generali

SEVERAL YEARS AGO it was discovered that many Holocaust victims who died in concentration camps had life insurance that was never paid to their heirs.

In one of the first cases of this kind, attorney William Shernoff brought an insurance bad faith lawsuit on behalf of Adolf Stern, a Holocaust survivor, against Generali, an Italian insurance company.

Prior to the lawsuit, Shernoff was instrumental in the passage of a California statute allowing such suits to be brought under California law until the year 2010.

After hearing arguments on whether California has jurisdiction over the giant Italian insurance company, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that the Stern case could proceed under California law. It was the first ruling of its kind in the United States.

Once the case was set for trial, Generali’s executives flew to California to negotiate a confidential settlement for Adolf Stern and the other Stern heirs. Shortly thereafter, Shernoff settled five additional Holocaust-era life insurance cases on behalf of other Holocaust survivors and their families.

The unprecedented success of these cases helped lead to a $5 billion settlement reached in 2002 compensating Holocaust victims for unpaid insurance benefits, dormant bank deposits and slave labor. Our law firm was among the counsel involved in this monumental and historic settlement.

William Shernoff continues to represent Holocaust victims pursuing claims against Generali for life insurance benefits. Such cases have now been consolidated in Federal Court in New York and are presently being handled by the Shernoff Holocaust team, which includes attorney Lisa Stern of Los Angeles.