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 Demystifying Settlement Agreements by Marcy Tiffany and Steven Wyner

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Demystifying Settlement Agreements
by Marcy Tiffany and Steven Wyner

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"In drafting a settlement agreement, you must pay close attention to the details. The devil is in those details"
... Pete Wright

As any lawyer or hearing officer will attest, it is almost always better to settle a case than to go to hearing. There are several reasons for this. First, it avoids the delay, expense, uncertainty and emotional strain associated with a hearing. Second, hearing officers are relatively limited with respect to the types of relief that they can order. A settlement agreement offers more flexibility in crafting a remedy.

However, few agreements are more legally complex than a settlement agreement. While a well-crafted settlement agreement can be very effective in resolving disputes and allowing the parties to move forward, a poorly-crafted agreement can create new problems, and sometimes leads to even more litigation.

Demystifying Settlement Agreements, Marcy Tiffany and Steven Wyner explain how settlement agreements should be structured, and the meaning and purpose of the legal boilerplate language in most settlement agreements. Tiffany and Wyner also point out common pitfalls to avoid. Demystifying Settlement Agreements is available from http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/art/wyner.tiffany.agreement.pdf

To illustrate the points in their article, Tiffany and Wyner provide a Sample Settlement Agreement that explains the basis and importance of each clause. Download the Sample Settlement Agreement article from:

Demystifying Settlement Agreements explains and describes each paragraph of the Sample Settlement Agreement. For ease of reading, each section of the Sample Settlement Agreement is in bold capital letters that correspond to the sections in Demystifying Settlement Agreements.

Be sure to print the article, Demystifying Settlement Agreements, and the Sample Settlement Agreement. You need to have both as you read the article.

About the Authors

Steven Wyner and Marcy Tiffany have represented hundreds of children and their families in connection with various special education issues in administrative hearings, federal district court and the Ninth and Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Steven WynerSteven Wyner of Wyner Law Group, PC. In 1988, Steve began advocating for the special education needs of his oldest son, involving him in extensive legal research and analysis of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), the California Education Code, and federal and state law regulations promulgated under such laws. In 1993 he opened his own law office, focusing on special education law.

Mr. Wyner graduated with honors from King Hall Law School at the University of California, Davis in 1977, after which he clerked on the federal district court. He received an LL.M. from New York University in 1981. Steve has practiced law at various law firms and as a sole practitioner.

Marcy TiffanyMarcy J.K. Tiffany, formerly a partner in the law firm of Wyner & Tiffany, is currently practicing as Tiffany Law Group, P.C.  Ms. Tiffany graduated with honors from UCLA Law School in 1977, after which she clerked for both a federal district court and a federal appeals court judge. She subsequently practiced law with private firms, in various government positions, and as corporate general counsel.

In 1999, she left private practice, in part to focus on her own special needs child who was struggling in middle school. Concerned about the lack of services for special needs students in her community, she formed a support group for parents and ultimately began representing parents of special needs students.

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Other Cases and Settlements

Steve Wyner and Marcy Tiffany were involved in the landmark case, Jarron Draper v. Atlanta GA Schools in which a special education student, Jarron Draper, was misdiagnosed as mentally retarded for over five years. Decisions in the Draper case are at http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/caselaw/07/GA.jdraper.atlanta.htm

Wyner and Tiffany were widely known for the 6.7 million dollar settlement in Porter v. Manhattan Beach Unified School District and California Department of Education. To read about Porter v. Manhattan Beach and California DOE, go to:

In 2006, Ms. Tiffany and Mr. Wyner were awarded the prestigious California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year (CLAY) Award in the area of civil rights litigation. Mr. Wyner and Ms. Tiffany have been selected for inclusion in Southern California Super Lawyers, based on peer recognition and professional achievement.

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Last revised: 05/31/11

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