A dispute between the golf star Tiger Woods and a former girlfriend about her proper to stay in his dwelling have to be resolved by way of arbitration beneath a nondisclosure settlement between them, a Florida choose dominated on Wednesday.
The ruling put the spectacle on a path to be dealt with in non-public — a victory for Woods, whose attorneys had contended that his nondisclosure settlement with Erica Herman, his former companion, broadly required disputes to be addressed privately by way of arbitration, not the court docket system.
Lawyers for Herman had forged doubt on the validity of the settlement, in half as a result of they believed that a few of Woods’ conduct was sexual harassment. Under a comparatively new federal regulation, a nondisclosure settlement linked to sexual harassment might be declared void, permitting the matter to be heard in a court docket.
But in a choice on Wednesday, Judge Elizabeth A. Metzger of the Circuit Court in Martin County, Fla., granted Woods’ requests to remain Herman’s claims and compel arbitration, saying the claims had been “implausibly pled.”
A lawyer for Herman had argued that Woods did not “authenticate” the NDA, however the choose famous that Herman didn’t deny that her signature was on the doc, or that the NDA requires disputes to be resolved by way of confidential arbitration.
Herman, who had labored on the event of Woods’s restaurant in Florida, additionally had the chance to “present factual specificity for any declare regarding sexual assault or sexual harassment,” the choose, who held a listening to on the case on May 9, wrote in the choice. “However, she has not accomplished so.”
Although the ruling, barring a profitable enchantment, will take the dispute out of public view, attorneys for Herman and Woods used court docket filings in the months main as much as the listening to to alternate sensational allegations and slights.
In Herman’s account, she went to work in Woods’ constellation of enterprise pursuits in 2014 and have become romantically concerned with him in 2015. By the tip of 2016, she mentioned in a court docket submitting, she had moved into a house with Woods.
About six years later, in October 2022, their relationship collapsed. According to Herman, she was informed she and Woods could be taking a fast journey to the Bahamas aboard a personal aircraft and went to an airport with him.
“But as a substitute of boarding the aircraft, Mr. Woods informed Ms. Herman to speak to his lawyer, and Mr. Woods left,” Herman’s attorneys wrote in a submission to the choose. “Then, Mr. Woods’s California lawyer, out of the blue, informed her that she was not going wherever, would by no means see Mr. Woods once more, had been locked out of the home, and couldn’t return.”
According to Herman, she and Woods had an 11-year “oral tenancy” deal, which had about 5 years remaining on the time of their breakup. In a submitting final fall, Herman’s attorneys estimated that she had suffered greater than $30 million in damages.
But Woods’ representatives argued that the aftermath of the breakup, together with any issues about Herman’s entry to the house in a rich enclave north of West Palm Beach, ought to be dealt with in arbitration. They cited a three-page settlement dated Aug. 9, 2017, the identical day a prosecutor mentioned Woods had reached a plea deal in a case that started with a cost of driving beneath the affect.
The fast authorized query earlier than Judge Metzger was not whether or not Herman’s interpretation of her tenancy association with Woods was appropriate, however whether or not her court docket was the appropriate discussion board for the matter to be thought-about.
To fortify their effort to maneuver the dispute right into a Florida courtroom, Herman’s attorneys, counting on a largely untested federal regulation concerning NDAs, argued that Woods had engaged in sexual harassment as a result of the settlement was tied to his private and dealing relationships with Herman.
“A boss imposing totally different work situations on his worker due to their sexual relationship is sexual harassment,” Herman’s attorneys wrote. Beyond the employer-employee relationship, they mentioned, the push by a Woods-established belief to pressure Herman from the house the couple had shared additionally amounted to sexual harassment as a result of “the owner made the provision of her housing conditional on her having a sexual relationship with a co-tenant.”
In a submitting of their very own, Woods’ attorneys depicted Herman as “a jilted ex-girlfriend who desires to publicly litigate specious claims in court docket, moderately than honor her dedication to arbitrate disputes in a confidential arbitration continuing.”
They additionally denied that she was “a sufferer of sexual assault or abuse” and warned the court docket in opposition to permitting “Ms. Herman to end-run her obligation to arbitrate her disputes with Mr. Woods with implausible claims of sexual harassment.” Arbitration tangle apart, the belief, citing the size of the oral tenancy association, mentioned in a separate submission that it believed the housing settlement was not ruled by a specific Florida regulation.
Woods has performed two tournaments this 12 months, most just lately the Masters Tournament in April. He withdrew in the course of the third spherical and underwent ankle surgical procedure lower than two weeks later. He has not introduced when he expects to return to a contest schedule that was already severely restricted after he sustained main leg accidents in a automobile wreck in February 2021.
Mike Ives contributed reporting.