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Q&A with Mark Geragos

October 21, 2009|By Zain Shauk

A set of news articles hangs on the walls of attorney Mark Geragos' office, a record of the high-profile cases he has argued. set of news articles hangs on the walls of attorney Mark Geragos' office, a record of the high-profile cases he has argued.

A New York Times story, enlarged and affixed to a shelf display, bears the headline, "For Lawyer, It's Michael Jackson on Line 1, Scott Peterson on Line 2." Other articles touch on his defense of Greg Anderson, a personal trainer caught up in a performance enhancing drug investigation related to Barry Bonds and the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative, and actress Winona Ryder, who was arrested on shoplifting charges in 2001.

The La Cañada resident recently defended singer Chris Brown in a domestic violence case involving singer Rihanna, and is representing actress Nicole Richie in her suit involving a paparazzo who rear-ended her.

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But for all of his headline-grabbing appearances, Geragos says his passion has been fighting on behalf of Armenian Genocide victims. He has fought more than 15 cases related to the genocide. Two recent cases sought payment from life insurance companies to descendants of genocide victims who held policies. Geragos and his team were able to negotiate settlements earning a combined total of $37 million, from AXA and New York Life Insurance Co.

A third case against German insurers Victoria Versicherung and Ergo Versicherungsgruppe, as well as parent company Munchener Ruckversicherungs-Gesellschaft AG, hit a major setback Aug. 20 when the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the descendants of the genocide victims could not seek payments on the policies.

Two of the three judges on the appellate panel argued the claims would interfere with U.S. foreign policy, because the federal government has not officially recognized the Armenian Genocide.

ZAIN SHAUK: Your career has been defined largely by your work defending high-profile clients, but where does this Armenian Genocide-related case rank for you?

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