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Hastings Law Journal

Abstract

In 1994, the Supreme Court decided three cases-Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America, Digital Equipment Corp. v. Desktop Direct, Inc., and U.S. Bancorp Mortgage Co. v. Bonner Mall Partnership-that involved issues relating to settlement agreements. In resolving the issues in these cases, the Court gave surprisingly little weight to the long-standing public policy favoring the private settlement of disputes.

In her Article, Professor Cordray reviews these important recent decisions, focusing on the Court's dismissive treatment of the policy favoring settlement. Professor Cordray then considers more thoroughly both the significance of the policy and its place in the legal analysis of issues involving settlements. In particular, she suggests that because the policy serves important institutional interests, it is more than a narrow concern that focuses on the interests of the specific parties in settling their case; instead, it is a substantial public policy that should receive more careful attention than the Court gave it in these decisions. Finally, in an effort to suggest how other legal issues involving settlements should be approached in future cases, Professor Cordray analyzes two further issues concerning settlement agreements that have troubled the lower courts.

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