A domestic dispute between Tiger Woods and his ex-girlfriend has ended up in Florida court after he broke up with her in October and allegedly had her locked out of the mansion they shared on the Treasure Coast, according to court records obtained by USA TODAY Sports.
The former girlfriend, Erica Herman, responded by filing a lawsuit, not against the golf legend, but against a farm company he controls in Hobe Sound, Florida. Now she is seeking more than $30 million in damages, saying the trust and its agents misappropriated $40,000 in cash that belonged to her and made “tricky and defamatory claims about how she obtained the money.”
Her lawsuit stated that she had an “oral lease” to stay at the home for five more years after being in effect for six years prior to the breakup.
“The duties performed by, and expected of, the plaintiff were extensive and of an extraordinary nature in light of the general circumstances and environment in which she lived,” her lawsuit said.
In a separate complaint this week, she also sued Wood and asked the court to release her from her nondisclosure agreement with Woods from 2017. She argued that it is unenforceable under the federal Speak Out Act, which prohibits judicial enforcement of such agreements in disputes involving sexual assault or harassment.
Both cases are intertwined as lawyers for Woods’ trust try to enforce the NDA and push the dispute out of public court and into private arbitration.
The first lawsuit was filed against the trust in October but was not previously reported until Wednesday
Lawsuit against the trust
“Plaintiff has consistently demanded to be allowed back into her home, but Defendant’s agents have refused,” Herman’s lawsuit against the trust said.
The suit against the trust said she was forced out by “trickery” from agents from the trust, who convinced her to pack a suitcase for a short holiday. When she arrived at the airport, they told her she had been locked out of her residence, in violation of the verbal lease agreement and in violation of Florida law, the lawsuit states.
The trust has responded to that lawsuit by asking the court to compel confidential arbitration of the dispute. It said the NDA between Woods and Herman requires arbitration of such disputes and that she sued the trust instead of Woods to avoid that requirement and “gain leverage by litigating her disputes with Mr. Woods in a public forum.”
According to court documents filed by the trust, Woods established the trust in 2017. Its only potential beneficiaries are Woods and his children. Its only asset is the ownership interest in this home.
“Ms. Herman was invited to live at the residence while she was in a relationship with her former boyfriend, Eldrick (Tiger) Woods, who continues to live at the residence with their two children, according to a document filed in court by the trust. “After Mr. Woods recently ended the relationship, Ms. Herman was informed that she was no longer welcome at the residence.”
But Herman has fought back, citing a federal law that invalidates arbitration agreements that prevent a party from filing a lawsuit in court involving sexual assault and harassment. This law is called the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault And Sexual Harassment Act of 2021.
Herman, who also worked as a manager of Woods’ restaurant in Jupiter, Florida, has not made specific allegations of abuse or harassment against him. She is instead asking a court to declare her NDA at least partially unenforceable, thereby allowing her to say more.
“This uncertainty is acute and important,” her lawsuit this week against Woods said. “Due to Defendant’s aggressive use of Wood’s NDA against her and the trust under his control, Plaintiff is uncertain whether she can disclose, among other things, facts giving rise to various legal claims she believes she has. She is also currently uncertain which other information about her own life that she can discuss or with whom. There is therefore an active dispute between the plaintiff and the defendant about which the plaintiff needs a clarifying statement from the court.”
Herman’s lawsuit against the trust stated that “all expenses connected with the plaintiff’s stay, or resulting therefrom, were to be paid in full by the defendant or its private party.” It also says that damages will be determined at trial “but will likely be measured in excess of $30,000,000, given the substantial monthly rental value of the residence.”
Attorneys for the two sides did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
The dispute joins a list of problems for Woods over the years away from the golf course. He recovered from a car accident near Los Angeles in 2021, the latest in a string of driving-related problems. He also divorced his wife Elin Nordegren in 2010 after becoming involved in a sex scandal.
Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. Email: [email protected]
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tiger Woods faces lawsuits from ex-girlfriend over home, money