Cuyahoga County Common Pleas court seal

Publisher’s Note:

The complaint filed in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, as contained in this article, includes several sexually explicit references and may not be suitable for readers under the age of 18. Reader discretion is advised.

The owner of a local car dealership has been accused of “a pattern of sexual harassment and predatory behavior” in a lawsuit filed by two of his former employees. The lawyer representing the owner said his client will be “vindicated” when all relevant information comes to light.

The amended complaint, filed Sept. 17 in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, alleges Evan Fineberg, dealer principal of Adventure Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram in Willoughby and Adventure Subaru in Painesville, “repeatedly” asked female employees if he could perform a sexual act in front of them and “repeatedly” propositioned employees for sex. The complaint alleges Fineberg, Adventure dealerships and their parent company, FM Dealership, created a hostile work environment and retaliated against the women when they complained of the behavior. FM Dealership was aware of credible sexual harassment allegations made by multiple female employees and it failed to take any steps to remove Fineberg, the complaint alleges.

Peter Mapley, the attorney representing the two women, said he is conducting an investigation to determine if the behavior outlined in the complaint is part of a larger pattern.

Fineberg directed a request for comment to his lawyer, Larry Zukerman.

“(The lawsuit) is not wholly complete. It is not entirely accurate,” attorney Zukerman said. “I’m not going to comment on the substance at this point in time. I think as it plays out in court, the truth will come out.”

The complaint alleges one of the women, Chloe Babcock of Lakewood, was in her early 20’s when she worked at Adventure, and she hoped the job would help her start a career in the auto business. The complaint said Babcock began working at Adventure in Painesville around July 2015 and alleges Fineberg, whose address is listed as the dealership location in Willoughby, would frequent the Painesville dealership to harass her.

According to the lawsuit, Babcock complained about Fineberg’s behavior to the management at Adventure Subaru in August 2015, and for a few weeks afterward, Fineberg left her alone.

Babcock was transferred to the Willoughby location in November 2015 and alleges Fineberg would watch her on the store’s closed-circuit camera system, where he would request Babcock “flash” him. Fineberg also allegedly began sending Babock text messages that included lewd requests. When Babcock turned down Fineberg’s advances, her hours at the dealership were cut, according to the complaint.

The complaint also alleges in March 2017, Babcock was called into Fineberg’s office and ordered to perform a sex act on him. Babcock quit her job shortly after this encounter, according to the lawsuit.

After the complaint was initially filed, Sept. 17, it was amended; the amended complaint states Fineberg filed a report with the Willoughby Police Department on Sept. 17, accusing Babcock of stealing about $250 about two years ago, when she was an employee. The complaint and Mapley deny the accusation.

This is the cover letter for the theft complaint filed by Evan Fineberg on Sept. 17. This case is currently being investigated and only the cover letter is available to the public.

The second plaintiff is Clarice Mack of Cleveland Heights, who was in her mid-20’s when she worked at the dealership. The complaint alleges she was terminated in retaliation for reporting Fineberg’s behavior. She was hired in May 2017 as a sales consultant and began receiving unwanted attention from Fineberg her first week on the job, according to the complaint.

Mack went to management and reported an incident involving Fineberg. The lawsuit alleges management’s resulting inquiry substantiated that Fineberg was involved in multiple instances of inappropriate behavior but no action was taken.

In November 2017, Mack alleges she filed another complaint with management. Adventure management reportedly told Mack to “avoid being alone” with Fineberg, the complaint said. She was fired around April 1 for taking unapproved vacation days, which she claims were previously approved, according to the lawsuit.

Zukerman said there was “an abundance” of relevant information and evidence not in the complaint.

“And when it’s fully disclosed in court, I believe that the dealership and Mr. Fineberg will be vindicated,” Zukerman said. “You can put anything you want in a complaint, and under the rules from the Supreme Court of Ohio, you are immune from any type of slander or libel. What a courtroom is for is to determine what is truthful, what is complete, what is believable. I feel that once a jury hears the evidence in this case, they will find that it’s not truthful, it’s not complete, it’s not believable.”

Zukerman declined to reveal the nature or substance of the information he said was not in the complaint, and said he was “not in a position to answer” if it was typical behavior for Fineberg to text employees.

No court date has been set. Judge Joan Synenberg has been assigned to the case.

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