A lawyer used ChatGPT and now has to answer for his “false” quotes

Lawyers suing the Colombian airline Avianca filed a brief full of previous cases that were fair made up by ChatGPT, New York Times reported today. After opposing counsel pointed out the nonexistent cases, U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel confirmed, “Six of the submitted cases appear to be false court decisions with false citations and false internal citations,”[ads1]; and set a hearing as he considers sanctions for the plaintiffs’ attorneys . .

Attorney Steven A. Schwartz admitted in a statement that he had used OpenAI’s chatbot for his research. To verify matters, he did the only reasonable thing: he asked the chatbot if it was lying.

This case is not going very well.
Image: SDNY

When asked for a source, ChatGPT went on to apologize for earlier confusion and insisted the case was genuine, saying it could be found on Westlaw and LexisNexis. Satisfied, he asked if the other cases were fake, and ChatGPT claimed they were all real.

The opposing attorney brought the issue to the court’s attention in painful detail as he recounted how Levidow, Levidow & Oberman’s attorneys were a card full of lies. In one example, a non-existent case called Varghese v. China Southern Airlines Co., Ltd., the chatbot appeared to refer to another genuine case, Zicherman v. Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd., but got the date (and other details) wrong and said it was decided 12 years after the original 1996 decision.

Schwartz says he was “unaware of the possibility that the content could be fake.” He “strongly regrets having used generative artificial intelligence to supplement the legal research conducted here and will never do so in the future without absolute verification of its authenticity.”

Schwartz is not admitted to practice in the Southern District of New York, but originally filed the lawsuit before it was moved to that court and says he continued to work on it. Another attorney at the same firm, Peter LoDuca, was named attorney in the case, and he must appear before the judge to explain what happened.

Anyway, here’s the judge pointing out all the ways the lawyer’s letter was an absolute lie fest:

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