Florida judge rejects Tiger Woods’ ex-girlfriend’s attempt to break non-disclosure agreement
A Florida judge late Wednesday ruled that Tiger Woods’ ex-girlfriend must honor a non-disclosure agreement she allegedly signed and settle her lawsuit, seeking millions from the golf superstar, through private arbitration closed doors must be enclosed.
District Judge Elizabeth Metzger, in an 11-page opinion, dismissed Erica Herman’s attempt to vacate the 2017 agreement on the grounds that Woods committed sexual harassment toward her and called Herman’s allegations “vague and flimsy.”
“Herman had an opportunity to provide factual evidence for each allegation of sexual assault or sexual harassment, but she did not,” Metzger wrote.
Metzger also said the evidence shows that a non-disclosure agreement was negotiated between Herman and Woods in 2017, although her attorney, Benjamin Hodas, now doubts whether she actually signed it.
At a Hearing on May 9thHodas acknowledged that Herman had signed an agreement, but said she doesn’t recall ever seeing the agreement that Woods’ attorneys presented to the court.
Metzger said that if Herman had clearly refused to sign the agreement, she would have ordered a hearing on the matter. However, since Herman isn’t sure if she signed it or not, that question is up to the referee.
Neither Hodas nor Woods’ attorney, JB Murray, immediately responded to emails late Wednesday seeking comment. It is not known if Hodas will appeal.
Herman, 39, had sued both Woods, 47, and the trust that owns his $54 million Florida property, seeking $30 million from the latter over unspecified allegations of sexual harassment. Forbes Magazine estimates Woods’ net worth at $1.1 billion.
Her husband, who ran Woods’ Restaurant in Palm Beach County before and during the early years of their romantic relationship, argues that the non-disclosure agreement is unenforceable under a new federal law that says such agreements can be void if sexual abuse or harassment has occurred.
She claimed in court documents that Woods threatened to fire her if she didn’t sign a non-disclosure agreement. Hodas argued that this is a form of harassment where an employee is treated differently from others because of a sexual relationship.
But the allegation of sexual harassment was barely mentioned at last week’s hearing. Metzger told Hodas she needed more information about what allegedly happened to think about it. Hodas said he could not publicly reveal any more information, fearing he would breach the non-disclosure agreement if it were ultimately honored.
Murray called the allegation “completely unfounded”.
In Herman’s lawsuit against Woods, she asked Metzger to either break the nondisclosure agreement or at least give her guidance on what to say publicly. She also argued that the contract only covers her working relationship with Woods, not her personal affairs.
In her eviction lawsuit against the trust, she is basing her $30 million claim on how much it would cost to rent a property like Woods’ beachfront mansion north of Palm Beach for the six years the golfer allegedly promised her were then rejected.
Before they met, Woods hired Herman in 2014 to help him set up and run The Woods golf sports bar and restaurant in nearby Jupiter – but they disagree on when their romance and life together began.
Herman says in her court filings that their romantic relationship began in 2015, and that in late 2016 she moved into Woods’ nearly 30,000-square-foot (2,800-square-meter) mansion in the upscale Hobe Sound community. She says that Woods verbally promised her in 2017 that he would live there for at least 11 more years. Herman says Woods pressured her to quit the job in 2020 so she could spend more time caring for him and his children.
Woods says in his court documents that their romantic relationship began in 2017 and that she moved in with him in August, around the time the controversial non-disclosure agreement was signed. In March 2017, Woods gave the mansion to the Jupiter Island Irrevocable Homestead Trust, an entity he founded whose only beneficiaries are himself and his two children.