Erica Herman vs. Tiger Woods explained: ‘It’s a serious allegation that she’s making’

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUG 31: Erika Herman and Tiger Woods watch before the women's singles second round match between Anette Kontaveit of Estonia and Serena Williams of the United States on the third day of the 2022 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center , August 31, 2022, in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens in New York.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Erica Herman and Tiger Woods have been in a relationship for about six years since 2017. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Seeking both financial compensation and release from a non-disclosure agreement, Erica Herman filed two lawsuits against former partner Tiger Woods and his assets following their split last fall.

While the initial headlines after the filing focused on ominous speculation about potential sexual harassment or allegations of sexual assault, the truth remains hidden for now.

Woods and Herman dated for about six years, during which she was often present next to him and in the company of his children at important events, including large ones. They broke up last October and Woods allegedly kicked her out of the mansion they shared, according to court documents obtained by Sportzshala Sports.

Last fall, Herman filed a lawsuit in the District Court for the 19th Judicial District of Martin County, Florida against the Jupiter Island, Florida estate that Woods controls, seeking $30 million in damages. In that lawsuit, Herman claimed that she had an “oral lease agreement” that kept her in the house for another five years after the breakup. She also accused the trust of misappropriating $40,000 in cash that belonged to her, making “lewd and slanderous allegations about how she obtained the money.”

In the lawsuit, Herman argues that “the duties that were carried out and from which [Herman] were vast and unusual in light of the general circumstances and environment in which she lived.”

Herman alleges that she was not allowed into the house because of the “deception” of the trust agents, who Herman claims “convinced the plaintiff to pack her suitcase for a short vacation, and when she arrived at the airport they told her that she was locked in her residence in violation of an oral lease agreement and in violation of Florida law.” Herman then claimed that Woods’ agents put her in a hotel room and “without a lawyer to help her in this emotional moment … used the services of a lawyer to present her with proposals for settling the offenses they were committing.”

In response, the trust said Herman was trying to circumvent the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) by suing the trust, not Woods himself. public forum. The trust was established in 2017, with Woods and his children as beneficiaries, and Woods’ Jupiter Island home as its only asset.

“RS Herman claims she entered into a verbal lease agreement with the trust’s ‘agent(s)’. In fact, Ms Herman was offered to live in the residence while she was in a relationship with her ex-boyfriend Eldrick Woods, who continues to live in residence with her two children,” the trust’s motion to arbitrate says. “After Mr. Woods recently ended his relationship, Miss Herman was informed that she was no longer welcome in residence.”

Herman is seeking more than $30 million in damages, given her expected tenure in the house for another five years and “substantial monthly rent for the residence.”

Earlier this week, Herman filed a separate lawsuit directly against Woods, seeking an NDA release she signed at the start of their relationship in 2017. This NDA, although heavily redacted in court documents, required that any disputes between Woods and Herman be resolved through arbitration.

Herman invoked a new provision, informally known as the Speech Act, seeking an exemption from the NDA. Passed by Congress in November 2022 and signed into law by President Biden in December, the Sexual Assault and Sexual Assault Involuntary Arbitration Termination Act of 2021 is designed to protect the rights of victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault. In other words, an NDA could potentially be voided based on allegations of sexual harassment or assault.

“Because the law is so new, there haven’t been any courts yet to decide on this issue, although the law is pretty clear,” says Chris Anoulevich, an Atlanta-based attorney with extensive experience in contract law. “I expect that where the law applies, victims will successfully use the Act to void such non-disclosure agreements.”

The Speech Act defines sexual assault as “non-consensual sexual intercourse or sexual contact” and sexual harassment is defined as conduct that meets the standards of harassment “under applicable federal, tribal, or state law.”

“She is making a serious accusation,” Anulevich says. “She must have something to back it up.”

Herman’s lawsuit does not specifically state that Woods committed sexual assault or harassment. Instead, the lawsuit seeks to use the Speech Act to exempt her from the NDA.

“Due to the aggressive use of the Woods NDA against her by the defendant and the trust under its control, the plaintiff is unsure whether she can disclose, among other things, the facts giving rise to the various legal claims she believes she has,” Herman’s statement. states. “She is also currently not sure what other information about her life she can discuss or with whom. Thus, there is an active dispute between the plaintiff and the defendant, in which the plaintiff needs a clarifying statement from the court.”

The NDA does not prevent a person from directly filing a sexual assault or harassment lawsuit. “Non-disclosure agreements usually don’t limit your legal rights to defend your legal rights in court or report crimes to the authorities,” says Anulevich. “You just can’t talk about them outside of court. There may be a protective order prohibiting public access to information.”

It’s entirely possible, Anoulevich notes, that depending on the wording of the NDA, which, again, is heavily redacted in court documents, allegations of sexual assault or harassment could be directed at someone other than Woods. “If the NDA says, ‘You are not allowed to comment on me or any of my employees, including my employees,’ then that could indicate other people in the house or near Woods,” says Anulevich.

At its core, an NDA is a quid pro quo agreement between two people, in which both parties agree to maintain confidentiality in exchange for certain benefits, which can include everything from living arrangements to employment arrangements. It’s not unusual for someone of the stature of Woods to require a number of people in their orbit to sign non-disclosure agreements. “People with a lot of wealth, high publicity, they can enter into non-disclosure agreements for a variety of reasons, they employ a variety of people,” says Anulevich. “God knows what the cook or the gardener will see.”

Woods has until March 27 to respond to Herman’s complaint. He faced a range of legal and personal difficulties that began with the revelation of his infidelity in 2009 and subsequent divorce from wife Elin Nordegren in 2010. a car accident in 2021 that left him with serious career-changing injuries.

In Herman’s case, the seriousness of the allegations now places a significant burden of proof on her shoulders. “It is important for her lawyers to proceed with caution,” says Anulevich. “If she pulls that number, people will say that something very bad must have happened. But she also seems to act very cautiously. I wouldn’t rush to condemn all of this.”


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