Legal Disputes Arise Between Tiger Woods and Ex-Girlfriend Over Non-Disclosure Agreement and Residency

In recent months, legal disputes between Tiger Woods and his ex-girlfriend Erica Herman have been brewing, largely related to Herman’s right to live in Woods’ home in Hobe Sound, Florida. According to court documents, Woods ended the relationship on October 13, 2022. Thirteen days later, Herman filed a separate complaint against the Jupiter Island Irrevocable Homestead Trust, which Woods set up in February 2017 and owns his primary property in Hobe Sound. The October complaint alleges that Herman lived at Woods’ house for six years as part of an oral tenancy agreement between the two, and that approximately five years remained on it.

Herman’s complaint states the oral tenancy agreement “gave the plaintiff the right to live in the residence for a certain duration of time,” and that “the duties that were performed by, and expected of, [her] were extensive and of an extraordinary nature in light of the overall circumstances and environment in which she lived.” According to the filings, Woods himself responded by commencing arbitration against Herman. According to documents filed by the trust in December, Woods’ arbitration request argues “there is no oral tenancy agreement entitling Ms. Herman to occupy the residence.”

In a separate legal complaint filed in Martin County, Florida, Herman is seeking a court’s judgment on the extent of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) she signed with Woods. The NDA, which was signed on August 9, 2017, states that “any and all disputes, claims or controversies arising between us of any kind or nature whatsoever…shall be resolved by mandatory BINDING confidential arbitration to the greatest extent permitted by law.”

Herman is pursuing a court’s ruling to better understand if the NDA is enforceable, as well as the obligations of her and potentially the people around her in regards to her relationship with Woods. Herman’s complaint states she is “unsure whether she may disclose, among other things, facts giving rise to various legal claims she believes she has. She is also currently unsure what other information about her own life she may discuss or with whom.” In the complaint filed this week, Herman cites the Speak Out Act, signed into law in December 2022, which prohibits NDAs agreed to before “a dispute arises involving sexual assault or sexual harassment in violation of federal, tribal or state law.” Herman has not specifically accused Woods of sexual abuse, but the civil cover sheet filed by her lawyer, Benjamin Hodas, indicates the case involves allegations of sexual abuse.

Lawyers representing the trust have disputed Herman’s complaint and have requested it be dismissed, saying, “the trust is not a ‘juristic person’ capable of suing or being sued” and that the complaint is “just thinly camouflaged claims arising from disputes directly between Ms. Herman and Mr. Woods.” In effect, the trust’s legal team is guiding any action toward the arbitration outlined in the NDA.

According to Herman’s allegations, “agents of the [trust] convinced [Herman] to pack a suitcase for a short vacation and, when she arrived at the airport, they told her she had been locked out of her residence, in violation of the oral tenancy agreement and in violation of Florida law.” Herman also alleges that, “[The trust’s] agents attempted to justify their illegal conduct by paying for a hotel room and certain expenses for a short period of time, having successfully locked [Herman] out of her home and frightened her away from returning.”

The complaint alleges Herman’s belongings were removed from the residence and cash in excess of $40,000 was misappropriated. Herman is seeking monetary damages for being removed from the right to live at the property as a tenant, per the alleged agreement. “Reasonable rental value of the residence…is likely to be measured in excess of $30 million.”

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