Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods, his daughter Sam Alexis (left) and his girlfriend Erica Herman (centre) at the White House, following a ceremony in which the golfer received the Medal of Freedom from US President Donald Trump on May 6 2019. Image Credit: AP

Tiger Woods is one of the greatest golfers in history. Winner of the 15 majors — bettered only by Jack Nicklaus (18), Woods has always courted controversy. His personal life went into a tailspin in 2009 over reports of infidelities that wrecked his marriage with Elin Nordegren. Woods’s career too suffered, and that was exacerbated by several injuries.

Woods revived his career after crippling injuries following a car accident with a sensational win at the Augusta Masters in 2019. When calm returned to his life, Woods, 47, has been dragged to the courts.

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Erica Herman, Woods’s girlfriend of six years, has filed legal complaints in Martin County, Florida, to nullify a Non-Disclosure Agreement signed when they started dating in 2017. The relationship ended on October 13, 2022, although there has been no public announcement.

Herman, 38, is also suing for compensation for the remaining five years of an alleged oral tenancy agreement over her residency at Woods’s house in Hobe Sound, Florida.

Here’s what we know of the dispute.

Who’s Woods’s ex-girlfriend Erica Herman?

Herman grew up in Palm Beach County, attending Santaluces High School in the early 2000s, according to the Palm Beach Post. She attended Palm Beach State College and the University of Central Florida, graduating in legal studies.

She worked in the restaurant industry for the majority of her career. Herman went on to become the general manager of Tiger Woods’s flagship restaurant The Woods Jupiter at Florida’s Harbourside Place, according to Page Six, the celebrity column of the New York Post. She began working directly with Woods, and the two started dating.

Golfer Tiger Woods and Erica Herman
Golfer Tiger Woods and Erica Herman attend a US Open tennis match at the Flushing Meadows in New York on August 31, 2022. The two have parted ways and Herman has filed two suits against Woods. Image Credit: Reuters

They first stepped out as a couple in September 2017 at the President’s Cup, with Herman wearing a “player spouse” credential. Over the next six years, she was often present at Woods’s side at marquee events, including majors.

She had not been seen with him at his last three golf events — Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, the PNC Championship and the Genesis Invitational.

Why’s Herman suing Woods?

Herman has filed two lawsuits against Woods and his holdings after their breakup in October 2022.

In December, Herman sued Woods’s Jupiter Island Irrevocable Homestead Trust after Woods told her “she was no longer welcome in the residence”, which Herman say violates their “oral tenancy agreement”.

She is seeking more than $30 million in damages since she expected to live there for an additional five years and the “substantial monthly rental value of the Residence.”

Last week, Herman filed a suit against Woods, seeking release from an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) she signed when they started dating in 2017. Herman cited the Speak Out Act, which prohibits NDAs agreed to before “a dispute arises involving sexual assault or sexual harassment.” Although Herman has not accused Woods of sexual abuse, there are indications the case involves sexual abuse charges.

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What’s Woods’s Trust?

The Jupiter Island Irrevocable Homestead Trust was established in 2017, with Woods and his children as its beneficiaries and Woods’s Jupiter Island home as its sole asset.

Why Herman says she was ‘tricked’ into leaving Woods’s house?

The court papers state that Woods’s Trust’s employees convinced Herman to “pack a suitcase for a short vacation, and when she arrived at the airport, they told her she had been locked out of her residence, in violation of the oral tenancy agreement and in violation of Florida law.”

Herman alleges that Woods paid for a “hotel room and certain expenses for a short period of time” — and “frightened her away from returning” to the property.

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What are Herman’s claims?

Herman claims that she and Woods “entered an ‘oral tenancy agreement’ relating to the residence” that would allow her to live in his home for 11 years.

Woods’s ex-girlfriend says, based on the time left on her five-year tenancy, she’s owed $30 million after the oral agreement was breached when the Trust’s employees “locked her out of the Residence, removed her personal belongings”.

In her complaint, Herman also said she had more than $40,000 in cash that was “misappropriated,” and Woods’ employees made “scurrilous and defamatory allegations about how she obtained the money.”

Herman argues that she “performed services” during her relationship with Woods that “were extensive and of an extraordinary nature.”

Herman describes the couple’s relationship as both personal and professional.

What does Woods’s Trust say?

A statement of claim Woods submitted to the American Arbitration Association says that “there is no oral tenancy agreement entitling Ms. Herman to occupy the residence”.

The Trust says that Herman “began living in the residence” as an “invited guest” of the athlete and that “neither Mr. Woods nor the Trustee of the Trust ever transferred any ownership interest in the Residence to Ms. Herman.”

According to the Trust’s motion, “Ms. Herman improperly seeks to leverage a payment from Mr. Woods in an amount that no arbitral forum would ever award. Such gamesmanship should not be tolerated.”

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What are the contents of the NDA?

An NDA, or non-disclosure agreement, is a contract between two people in which both parties agree to maintain confidentiality in return for certain benefits, including everything from living arrangements to employment.

Woods’s Trust’s lawyers say Herman signed the agreement with Woods on August 9, 2017, in which both parties agreed “[they] are giving up any rights [they] may have to a trial by judge or jury with regard to matters which are required to be submitted to mandatory binding Arbitration.”

The lawyers say that by suing Woods, Herman disregards her “obligation to resolve all disputes with Mr. Woods in a confidential binding arbitration”.

Looks like the Tiger Woods can never stay off the news.