Tiger Woods’s former girlfriend is seeking to nullify a nondisclosure agreement (“NDA”) she signed with the professional golfer on August 9th, 2017, following an abrupt ending to a six-year relationship. Erica Herman filed legal complaints against Woods over the NDA, as well as her residency at Woods’s house in Hobe Sound, Florida. This is tricky territory, considering an NDA is presumed enforceable, meaning a disgruntled employee, or rather ex-girlfriend in this case, cannot disclose confidential information. Generally, NDAs are legally binding contracts and violating an NDA can have serious consequences. However, there are certain conditions under which an NDA may be void. For example, scholars argue that under the Florida Sunshine in Litigation Act, Florida courts should interpret confidentiality agreements in sexual abuse settlements to be void and unenforceable.
Herman has not specifically accused Woods of sexual abuse; the civil cover sheet indicates the case involves sexual abuse. Herman wants to speak out in violation of the terms of the NDA. She is arguing under the Federal “Speak Out Act” that if abuse is committed after the document was signed, the NDA is unenforceable. Herman has indicated that she was subjected to sexual abuse and harassment, and that Woods forced her out of her home through what was described in the complaint as “trickery.” Herman, who once worked at his Jupiter Woods restaurant, claims that Tiger kicked her out of her own home by telling her she was taking an all-expenses paid vacation. However, when she left with all her belongings, Tiger locked her out and he told her via his representatives that she was no longer allowed in his home. She also argues that the couple had an “oral agreement” permitting her to live in the house for up to 11 years, 5 of which are outstanding. In a court filing this week, Woods’s lawyers responded that only the golfer and his two children are potential beneficiaries of the trust that owns the home, and the only people with a right to live there. Further, Woods argues that Herman’s dispute is with Woods and not the trust.
Herman originally filed suit on October 26, 2022, suing the trust that represents Tiger Woods for 30 million dollars claiming violation of the Florida Residential Landlord Tenant Act. In that action she responded with “no” to the question, “Does this case involve allegations of sexual abuse?” According to court documents filed this week against Woods, Herman answered “yes” to the same question. Herman does not want to submit to arbitration as provided under the terms of the NDA, alleges that the NDA should be nullified, and the court case should be played out publicly.
Currently, the NDA remains in effect, barring Herman from disclosing private matters pertaining to her relationship with Woods. However, if the court determines that the NDA is unenforceable and the details of the relationship become public, things could get messy for Woods.
On top of a potential public legal battle with Herman, the Masters Tournament is quickly approaching. While not confirmed, Woods is expected to tee up at the Masters in Augusta, which starts April 6th. However, as more information comes to light regarding Woods and ex-girlfriend Herman, that could all change.
Tiger Woods has been the center of controversy ever since his very public divorce from Elin Nordegren in 2010. With the Masters Tournament less than a month away, this is not the publicity Tiger Woods needs.
Leave a Reply