Tiger Woods has won a key court ruling in his public dispute against his former partner Erica Herman.
Herman was attempting to void the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) she signed in 2017 when she started dating Woods, claiming the 15-time Major champion had committed sexual harassment against her.
However, a Florida judge has rejected those claims, calling the allegations “vague and threadbare,” and ordered the matter be settled through private arbitration.
Judge Elizabeth Metzger’s 11-page ruling was issued late on Wednesday and also included her opinion that an NDA had been agreed between the parties, something Herman’s lawyer Benjamin Hodas had called into question.
“Herman has had the opportunity (to) provide factual specificity for any claim relating to sexual assault or sexual harassment, however, she has not done so,” Metzger’s ruling read. “The parties are ordered to submit this action to arbitration.
“Pursuant to applicable law, this case is stayed pending completion of arbitration. The parties shall advise the Court once arbitration has been completed. The Clerk of the Court shall administratively close this case.”
Woods ended his five-year relationship with Herman in October last year, with reports emerging he had changed the locks on his Florida home. Herman then claimed damages of $30 million from a homestead trust Woods set up in 2017 that has only himself and his two children as beneficiaries, and later accused him of sexual harassment in attempt to break her NDA.
Herman’s lawyers argued that the manner of her eviction from Woods’ home was in violation of an “oral tenancy agreement” that permitted her to keep living there. The lawsuit also claimed agents of the trust used “trickery” to get Herman out the house, convincing her to pack a bag for a vacation before informing her she had been locked out and wouldn’t be allowed back.
Additional details were given by Hobas, who said: “The scheme involved convincing Ms Herman to pack for a weekend excursion to the Bahamas. She and Mr Woods often travelled on short notice for quick getaways, and she was told this would be another such trip. So, she took a minimum of items, expecting to return home in a few days.”
In response, Woods attempted to settle the matter privately under the conditions of the NDA before being accused of sexual harassment.
In the filing, Hobas wrote: “Mr. Woods was Ms. Herman’s boss. On Mr. Woods’ own portrayal of events, he imposed an NDA on her as a condition to keep her job when she began having a sexual relationship with him. A boss imposing different work conditions on his employee because of their sexual relationship is sexual harassment.”
J.B. Murray, the lawyer for Woods, called the allegations “utterly meritless”. Following Judge Metzger’s ruling, the dispute will now be resolved behind closed doors.
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