A Florida judge ruled late Wednesday that the ex-girlfriend of pro golfer Tiger Woods will have to abide by a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) she allegedly signed during their relationship.
Erica Herman, who split from Woods in October 2022, attempted to have the NDA nullified after she accused the golfer of sexual harassment. Her lawyers argued the agreement should be cancelled due to the Speak Out Act, a piece of American legislation enacted in 2022 that declared an NDA cannot silence a victim of sexual abuse.
In an 11-page ruling, Judge Elizabeth Metzger said Herman, 37, did not provide evidence of any sexual misconduct, as per NBC’s Golf Today.
Metzger wrote that Herman “made vague and threadbare references to behaviors or actions she contends constitute sexual harassment.” She called the allegations of harassment “implausibly pled.”
“Herman has had the opportunity to provide factual specificity for any claim relating to sexual assault or sexual harassment, however, she has not done so,” Metzger ruled.
Herman’s lawyer, Benjamin Hodas, has also questioned the authenticity of the NDA and earlier claimed Herman has no memory of signing the agreement. Hodas did acknowledge, however, that Herman’s signature is on the NDA. In her ruling, Metzger said Herman “does not deny that the signature on the NDA is hers or that she agreed to arbitrate.”
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The ruling is part of a larger US$30 million (over $40.4 million) tenancy lawsuit filed by Herman against Woods, 47, and his trust that claimed the golfer violated an 11-year oral tenancy agreement. She alleged Woods used “trickery” to lock her out of his beachfront home in Hobe Sound, Fla., where they both lived.
Though Herman reportedly moved in with Woods in 2016, the $30 million figure is equivalent to what Herman said she would have paid in rent for a similar property in the area across six years, the amount of time left on the alleged oral agreement.
Woods has denied any oral agreement was ever made. In March, Woods’ lawyer called Herman “a jilted ex-girlfriend who wants to publicly litigate specious claims in court, rather than honour her commitment to arbitrate disputes in a confidential arbitration proceeding.”
The judge’s decision to uphold the NDA means the lawsuit will continue away from the public eye using out-of-court arbitration.
Herman alleged Woods convinced her to go on a short vacation, only to have his trust call her once she arrived at the airport and inform her that she was not to return to the house. The legal complaint claimed Herman’s belongings were removed from the house and that $40,000 in cash that belonged to her was misappropriated. In the filing, Herman claims Woods’ representatives made “scurrilous and defamatory allegations about how she obtained the money.”
She also claimed Woods and his people “attempted to justify their illegal conduct” by paying for room and board for a short time period.
Woods and his former wife, Elin Nordegren, divorced in 2010, some nine months after he was caught in a series of extramarital affairs that cost him blue-chip corporate sponsors and tarnished an image that had been largely impeccable.
Since then, he has had a series of injuries and surgeries, including fusion surgery on his lower back in 2017, and shattered bones in his right leg from a February 2021 crash in Los Angeles when he drove his SUV off a coastal road while driving about 136 kilometres per hour.