Tiger Woods will likely recover from the foot injury that forced him to withdraw from the Masters Golf Tournament on April 9. But a painful legal situation, or two, may continue to hobble him. Woods spoke to reporters prior to the beginning of the tournament, reflecting on his stellar record as a five-time Masters champion, but the subject of his legal problems hadn’t surfaced back then. Now, we break down not one but two lawsuits filed in Florida state courts, both by Woods’ former girlfriend Erica Herman.
The Ex’s Claims in Court
The first suit—filed last October, when the couple broke up—is a $30 million civil claim filed by Herman against a trust allegedly controlled by Woods. The claim centers around the violation of an oral tenancy agreement on the mansion owned by Woods’ trust in Hobe Sound, Florida. Woods’ then-girlfriend was allegedly given the “right to live in the residence for a certain duration of time.” But Herman now claims that she was kicked out of the mansion, even though she had approximately five years remaining to live there.
The second lawsuit is a little less straightforward. In this complaint, filed last month, Herman is suing Woods over a non-disclosure agreement that she signed along with Woods in 2017. She now claim that the NDA is “invalid and unenforceable,” and is asking a Florida judge to nullify it. Woods’ attorneys say the NDA requires any disputes to be settled by private arbitration, rather than a court; thus, they claim that she can’t go to this judge, or any other, to nullify it. But Herman’s attorneys counter with the fact that two federal laws passed last year—the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act and the Speak Out Act—allow victims of sexual abuse to be released from NDA restrictions.
The problem is that Herman is not claiming that Woods sexually abused her. This fact prompted Woods’ attorneys to reply, “It is a transparent abuse of the judicial process that undermines the purpose of the federal statute and those whom the statute seeks to protect.”
“Ms. Herman is not a victim of sexual assault or abuse,” they wrote in a court filing. “Rather, Ms. Herman is a jilted ex-girlfriend who wants to publicly litigate specious claims in court.”
What happens next is anyone’s guess. Depending on how the court rules, the case could go to private arbitration or proceed in public court. Or Woods could just pay Herman to go away quietly.
What Is a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)? (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law Blog)
3 Lessons From Tiger Woods’ Drugged Driving Arrest (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life Blog)
Tiger Woods’ Company Sued Over Memorabilia Dispute (FindLaw’s Legally Weird Blog)
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