A dispute between golf pro Tiger Woods and his former roommate must be settled through an undisclosed settlement, a Florida judge ruled Wednesday.
The decision put the show on the path to a private settlement — a victory for Woods, whose lawyers argued that his non-disclosure agreement with Erica Herman, a former partner, required disputes to be resolved privately, not in court.
Herman’s attorneys questioned the validity of the contract, in part because they believed that some of Woods’ behavior amounted to sexual harassment. Under the new federal law, a nondisclosure agreement related to sexual assault can be declared void, allowing the matter to be heard in court.
But in Wednesday’s decision, Judge Elizabeth A. Metzger of the Circuit Court in Martin County, Fla., granted Woods’ request to suppress Herman’s claims and compel a counterclaim, saying the claims were “unreasonably contested.”
Herman’s attorney argued that Woods failed to “verify” the NDA, but the judge said Herman did not deny that his signature was on the document, or that the NDA required that disputes be resolved confidentially.
Herman, who once worked as a manager at Woods’ restaurant in Florida, also had the opportunity to “give factual information about any allegations of rape or sexual assault,” the judge, who heard the case on May 9, wrote. in the election. “However, he didn’t do that.”
Although the ruling, barring a successful appeal, will take the dispute out of the public eye, lawyers for Herman and Woods have used court records in the months leading up to the case to split the case.
In Herman’s story, she went to work for Woods’ marketing team in 2014 and began dating him in 2015. By the end of 2016, she said in court filings, she moved in with Woods.
Almost six years later, in October 2022, their relationship ended. According to Herman, he was told that he and Woods would take a quick trip to the Bahamas on a private plane and take him to the airport.
“But instead of getting on the plane, Mr. Woods told Mrs. Herman to talk to her lawyer, and Mr. Woods took off,” Herman’s lawyers wrote in a statement to the judge. “Then, Mr. Woods’ lawyer from California, surprised, told him that he was not going anywhere, he would never see Mr. Woods again, he was locked in the house, and he could not come back.”
According to Herman, she and Woods had an 11-year oral tenancy agreement, which had five years remaining at the time of their separation. Last fall, Herman’s lawyers said he suffered more than $30 million in damages.
But representatives of the Woods said that the consequences of the end of the family, including any issues related to Herman’s access to the house of wealthy people in the north of West Palm Beach, should be taken care of. They cited the three-page agreement of Aug. 9, 2017, the same day prosecutors said Woods reached out sorry deal in the case that started with the case of driving hard.
The question asked by Judge Metzger was not whether Herman’s interpretation of his arrangement with Woods was correct, but whether his court was the proper forum for the matter to be heard.
In order to bolster their efforts to move the dispute to a Florida court, Herman’s lawyers, relying on an untested federal law regarding NDAs, argued that Woods committed fraud because the agreement was related to his relationship with Herman.
Herman’s lawyers wrote: “An employer who forces his employee to do different jobs because he has sex with his spouse, is harassing him. Beyond the employer-employee relationship, they said, the push for a trust established by Woods to force Herman out of the home the couple shared was also rape because “the landlord made the presence of his home sexually compatible with my partner.”
In their own filing, Woods’ attorneys characterized Herman as “an ex-girlfriend who wants to litigate cases in court, instead of honoring her commitment to resolve disputes in private.”
He also denied that he was “raped or raped” and warned the court not to allow “Ms. Herman to eliminate his responsibility to resolve his disputes with Mr. Woods with unreasonable claims of abuse. Disagreements aside, the trust, regarding the length of the oral rental arrangement, said in a statement others believe that housing contracts are not governed by specific Florida law.
Woods has played two tournaments this year, most recently at the Masters Tournament in April. He he came out in the third round and had ankle surgery less than two weeks. He has not announced when he will return to competition after suffering serious leg injuries in a car accident in February 2021.
Mike Ives contributed reports.