An attorney for Tiger Woods filed court documents Monday that said Woods’ ex-girlfriend, Erica Herman, is not a victim of sexual assault or abuse but is instead a “jilted ex-girlfriend” who wants to publicly litigate “specious” claims in public court.
The attorney, J.B. Murray, filed the documents in response to two lawsuits Herman has filed against the famed golfer and the trust he established for his mansion on the Treasure Coast of Florida.
Herman sued the trust after her breakup with Woods in October, claiming more than $30 million in damages and stating she had an oral tenancy agreement with Woods to stay at the residence for about five more years.
Last week, she also filed a separate lawsuit against Woods that seeks to release her from her nondisclosure agreement (NDA) with Woods that the couple signed in 2017, near the beginning of their relationship. The lawsuits are related because the NDA requires disputes between the two to be resolved in confidential arbitration instead of public court. To get out of this requirement, Herman has invoked federal laws that invalidate NDAs and bypass confidential arbitration in cases of sexual harassment or assault.
Herman has not made specific allegations of such misconduct by Woods in her lawsuits. But her lawsuit against Woods implied she would say more if the court released her from the NDA. Her attorney also made the following reply when filling out a form for her lawsuit against Woods:
“Does this case involve allegations of sexual abuse?” asked the form.
“Yes,” answered Herman’s attorney.
Her attorney answered the same question with a “no” in the other lawsuit against the trust filed in October.
“Ms. Herman argues that she cannot be required to arbitrate her claims because a new federal statute … provides that a party to an arbitration agreement cannot be required to arbitrate a ‘sexual assault dispute’ or a ‘sexual harassment dispute,’ ” said the filing by Woods’ attorney.
“Ms. Herman’s position is utterly meritless. Nevertheless, (the statute) makes it clear that whether the federal statute applies and thus bars an arbitration ‘shall be determined by a court, rather than an arbitrator.’ Accordingly, Defendant asks this Court for an order determining that (the statute) does not apply to the claims in this case.”
Murray said in court documents filed last week that Herman did not have an oral or written tenancy agreement with Woods and instead was merely a guest at his residence.
In her lawsuit against Woods, Herman is asking the court to declare that her NDA is invalid under the federal Speak Out Act, which prohibits the judicial enforceability of NDAs in disputes involving sexual assault or harassment. She also wants the court to determine the arbitration clause in the NDA is unenforceable and that “any determination of its applicability in this case must be decided by the Court, not by an arbitrator, under the federal Ending Forced Arbitration Of Sexual Assault And Sexual Harassment Act of 2021.”
Murray, who is the attorney for Woods and the trust, wants to push the dispute back into private arbitration and wants the court to determine such federal statutes do not apply here.
“Ms. Herman is a not a victim of sexual assault or abuse sought to be protected by Congress when enacting the statute,” said the document Murray filed Monday. “Rather, Ms. Herman is a jilted ex-girlfriend who wants to publicly litigate specious claims in court, rather than honor her commitment to arbitrate disputes in a confidential arbitration proceeding.”
Her NDA with Woods said she agreed to arbitrate any dispute with him in consideration for the opportunity to continue to spend time with him and to be privy to certain private and confidential aspects of his personal life and his professional and business endeavors
“For more than six years, Ms. Herman enjoyed the benefits of her agreement,” Woods’ attorney stated in court records Monday. “Now that her relationship with Mr. Woods has ended, however, she seeks to disregard her obligation to arbitrate disputes with Mr. Woods. Even worse, she seeks to justify her refusal to arbitrate by making salacious and insidious implications to federal statutes applying only to claims relating to sexual assault disputes and sexual harassment disputes.”
Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. E-mail:email@example.com