A state choose in Florida has dominated in favor of Tiger Woods in his public dispute towards his ex-girlfriend, ordering the matter to be resolved in personal arbitration after it spilled into public court docket with allegations of sexual harassment and a messy breakup between the 2 in October.
Decide Elizabeth Metzger issued the ruling late Wednesday, handing the famed golfer a victory in his quest to maintain his personal battle with Erica Herman out of the general public eye.
“The events are ordered to submit this motion to arbitration,” Metzger dominated. “Pursuant to relevant legislation, this case is stayed pending completion of arbitration. The events shall advise the Court docket as soon as arbitration has been accomplished. The Clerk of the Court docket shall administratively shut this case.”
What was this about?
The problem at hand was about whether or not this dispute between these two former lovers ought to be resolved privately in arbitration beneath phrases of the nondisclosure settlement (NDA) that Woods’ lawyer stated they signed in 2017. However the bigger dispute began with their breakup in October, when Herman said Woods arranged to kick her out of his house in violation of an oral tenancy settlement she stated she needed to preserve residing there for a number of extra years.
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In response to her ouster from the house, Herman sued the belief that Woods established for that home, claiming greater than $30 million in damages. This led Woods to attempt to steer the dispute into personal arbitration pursuant to the phrases of the NDA.
The dispute bought even uglier after that. In March, Herman filed this lawsuit against Woods to problem that NDA and have the court docket declare it invalid. Her lawyer even cited new federal legal guidelines through which NDAs and compelled arbitration agreements don’t apply in disputes involving sexual harassment. Established in 2022, such legal guidelines had been designed to eradicate the usage of NDAs and personal arbitration as a approach for sexual predators to keep away from public accountability.
In a court docket submitting dated Might 5, her lawyer additionally stated Herman didn’t even recall signing the NDA in query. The choose did not purchase it, nevertheless.
“Importantly, Herman has not ‘denied’ that her signature is on the NDA,” the choose dominated. “Herman moreover has not ‘denied’ that the clear phrases of the NDA require the decision of her disputes, claims or controversies with Woods through binding, confidential arbitration.”
What was her sexual harassment case?
Herman didn’t get into any element about it till Might 5, when her lawyer filed a court docket doc that stated Woods pursued a sexual relationship together with her when she was his worker at his restaurant after which compelled her to signal an NDA about it – or be fired from her job if she didn’t. Herman labored at his restaurant, The Woods, in Jupiter, Florida, till she resigned in 2020.
At a court hearing in Stuart, Florida, May 9, Metzger requested Herman’s lawyer, Benjamin Hodas, to make clear this a part of his case. However Hodas declined to enter additional element, saying it’d violate the disputed NDA, which required Herman to maintain her personal life with Woods confidential.
Hodas as a substitute wished the court docket to offer extra readability on what extra he might reveal about this subject beneath the legislation with out violating the disputed NDA.
“There are points we now have not filed with the court docket but, details, that contain the sexual harassment prong of the EFAA,” Hodas stated, referring to the federal legislation generally known as the Ending Pressured Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act. “Sadly, due to this doc (the NDA), we’ve simply been very cautious on what allegations we make to the court docket, that we put in writing as a result of, given the broad scope, not less than on its face, of the purported (NDA), we don’t wish to run afoul of any of these provisions.”
However the choose stated Herman and her lawyer did not sufficiently make their case on the sexual harassment subject.
“Herman has had the chance (to) present factual specificity for any declare regarding sexual assault or sexual harassment,” the choose dominated. “Nonetheless, she has not finished so. Moreover, at no time has Herman’s counsel requested a chance to file a second amended grievance to incorporate further allegations. Subsequently, Herman’s implausibly pled claims don’t allow this Court docket to seek out that the EFFA is relevant.”
What was Woods’ response?
His lawyer, J.B. Murray, stated the NDA was “legitimate on its face” and beforehand called Herman a “jilted ex-girlfriend” making meritless claims. He instructed the choose Might 9 that Herman didn’t undergo the mandatory procedural steps to make a proper sexual harassment declare beneath federal legislation and as a substitute was making an “finish run” round them.
The choose agreed.
“Herman has not pursued any claims for sexual assault or sexual harassment towards Defendant,” the choose dominated. “She has solely pursued a declaratory judgment motion and has solely made imprecise and threadbare references to behaviors or actions she contends represent sexual harassment inside her response filed on Might 5, 2023.”
Within the listening to Might 9, Herman’s lawyer didn’t focus on the sexual harassment a part of his case till prompted by the choose with lower than 10 minutes left within the 45-minute continuing. Previous to that, he spent a lot of the listening to questioning the validity of the NDA and stated he wished an evidentiary listening to to resolve that subject.
However the choose appeared skeptical about that a part of his case. After months of court docket filings, it wasn’t till Might 5 that Hodas made the argument that Herman didn’t recall signing the NDA in query. That particular allegation was not talked about in her lawsuit difficult the NDA.
“Herman’s counsel’s try to equivocally allege that Herman can’t keep in mind signing the NDA or can’t say ‘for sure’ that she did, doesn’t create a disputed subject of truth requiring an evidentiary listening to,” the choose dominated. “Herman has not met her burden to dispute the existence of the NDA.”
Contributing: Melissa Holsman, TCPalm
Observe reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. E mail: email@example.com