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Disbarred Sheffield attorney to pay multimillion-dollar judgment after hypnotizing clients for sexual pleasure

October 17, 2018 GMT

Disbarred Sheffield attorney to pay multimillion-dollar judgment after hypnotizing clients for sexual pleasure

ELYRIA, Ohio – A Lorain County Common Pleas judge ordered a former Sheffield attorney currently serving a 12-year prison sentence to pay a multimillion-dollar judgment to one of the clients he hypnotized and sexually abused, court records show.

Michael Fine, 61, of Avon, was ordered Oct. 5 by Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Lee Sinclair to pay more than $2.3 million after a woman brought a civil lawsuit alleging Fine hypnotized her and then made unwanted sexual advances, court records show.

Fine is serving a 12-year sentence at the Belmont Correctional Institution after he pleaded guilty in 2016 to five counts of kidnapping and one count of attempted kidnapping. Six women reported that between 2004 and 2013, Fine hypnotized them and forced them to perform sexual acts, according to an indictment handed up Aug. 29, 2015.

“It’s a bizarre, unthinkable scenario that required justice and justice has been served,” said attorney David Corrado who represented the former client who brought the civil lawsuit.

Corrado’s client, who prefers to remain unnamed, retained Fine as her lawyer for a 2013 legal matter when the abuse outlined in the criminal charges and the civil suit took place.

“I think my client is very brave in the fact that she was able to bring this matter to the attention of the police,” Corrado said.

The woman recorded two phone conversations where Fine used sexually-explicit language. Police wired her with audio and video recording equipment before a Nov. 7, 2013 meeting at Fine’s office. The investigators interrupted the meeting when Fine began discussing sex, court records show. 

Fine surrendered his law license on Aug. 19, 2015 and is banned from practicing in the U.S.

Sinclair ordered Fine to pay $2 million in punitive damages, $100,000 in legal fees and $250,000 in compensatory damages, court records show. The judge lamented the fact that he could not set the amount for compensatory damages at $1 million due to a statutory cap of $250,000. 

“This is a great example of how the required statutory caps stand in the way of doing justice,” Sinclair wrote in the judgment entry, emphasizing the “permanent and life-changing emotional damages proximately caused by Michael Fine.”

Corrado agreed with Sinclair’s judgment as he is well aware of the trauma his client has gone through and continues to go through.

“There’s a lot to be said for the women who stood up to this man and came forward with regard to this,” Corrado said. 

In addition to Corrado’s client, three other women brought civil suits against Fine but all those cases have been unsuccessful, court records show. That is not surprising to Corrado.

“Michael Fine is a lawyer, and even though he is now disbarred and no longer licensed to practice law, he fought this tooth and nail,” Corrado said, describing the various motions Fine filed to inhibit the progress of the case.

“He’s in prison and I guess he has some time on his hands,” Corrado said. Fine represented himself in the civil case. 

“Other victims filed civil actions but they’ve all been dismissed or they all felt that they couldn’t receive a summary judgment motion,” Corrado said. At least one other victim has reached out to Corrado to potentially represent her. 

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