By Doug Ferguson
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Tiger Woods’ former girlfriend wants to nullify a nondisclosure agreement she signed with golf’s biggest star in a legal dispute that involves allegations of an abrupt breakup after six years together.
The court documents have come to light a month before Woods, whose comeback from injuries has restored his popularity, returns to Augusta National to play in the Masters.
Attorneys for Woods’ ex-girlfriend, Erica Herman, are asking for clarity on what she can and cannot say, according to documents filed in Martin County Circuit Court in south Florida.
Woods lives in Hobe Sound in Martin County, north of West Palm Beach, and the complaint said Woods and Herman had been living together.
According to the complaint, a trust controlled by Woods is trying to silence Herman with an NDA she signed while involved in a “personal and professional relationship” with Woods.
The complaint argues it should be nullified under the “Speak Out Act,” which became federal law in December and prohibits an NDA from being enforced when sexual assault or sexual harassment is involved.
Herman has not specifically accused Woods of sexual abuse; the civil cover sheet indicates the case involves sexual abuse.
Herman filed a separate complaint on Oct. 26 accusing the trust established by Woods, the Jupiter Island Irrevocable Homestead Trust, of violating the Florida Residential Landlord Tenant Act.
She alleges they had an 11-year oral tenancy agreement, and that five years remained on it when she was removed from the property through what she described in the complaint as “trickery.”
Herman, who once worked at his Jupiter Woods restaurant, alleges Woods’ agents persuaded her to pack for a short vacation. She claims when she arrived at the airport, they told her she had been locked out of the house and was not to return.
She also alleges the agents “attempted to justify their illegal conduct” by paying for a hotel room and certain expenses for a short period of time. The complaint says the agents removed her belongings and misappropriated $40,000 in cash that belonged to her, “making scurrilous and defamatory allegations about how she obtained the money.”
Woods’ agent at Excel Sports Management, Mark Steinberg, has not responded to a phone call and a text message seeking comment.
Woods and his wife divorced in 2010, some nine months after he was caught in a series of extramarital affairs that cost him blue-chip corporate sponsors and tarnished an image that been largely impeccable.
Since then, he has had a series of injuries and surgeries, including fusion surgery on his lower back in 2017, and shattered bones in his right leg from a February 2021 crash in Los Angeles when he drove his SUV off a coastal road while driving about 85 mph.
He returned from four back surgeries to win the 2019 Masters for his first major in 11 years and his 15th career Grand Slam title.
Equally remarkable was coming back from the car crash that he said nearly led to amputation of his right leg, playing in the Masters, and making the cut, just over a year later.
Woods is able to play only a limited schedule because of his injuries, and people continue to follow his every move. In Los Angeles three weeks ago, fans stood two-deep along just about every fairway for a glimpse of him.
Woods chose to sit out The Players Championship this week, instead resting for the Masters on April 6-9. He needs one more PGA Tour victory to set the career record he shares with Sam Snead at 82.
He was first seen in public with Herman at the Presidents Cup in late September 2017, and she had been a steady presence at the larger events, such as the 2019 Masters. But she was not with him at his Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas the first week in December, nor at the Genesis Invitational he hosted at Riviera in California three weeks ago.
The complaint filed Monday on the NDA doesn’t provide details about what information Herman might want to disclose or make specific allegations against Woods.
The complaint says because of “aggressive use” of the NDA, Herman is unsure whether she can disclose “facts giving rise to various legal claims she believes she has.” It also says she is unsure what other information about her own life she can discuss and with whom.