A pair of New York lawyers could be in serious trouble after it was discovered they cited fake cases in legal filings. Roberto Mata hired Peter LoDuca to represent him in a personal injury lawsuit against Avianca Airlines.
When Avianca Airlines filed a motion to dismiss the case, LoDuca cited nine previous cases in his response. According to the New York Times, those cases included Martinez v. Delta Air Lines, Zicherman v. Korean Air Lines, and Varghese v. China Southern Airlines.
Lawyers for Avianca Airlines began researching the cases so they could answer LoDuca's filing. But, their efforts to locate the relevant files turned up nothing, prompting Judge P. Kevin Castel to ask LoDuca to turn over copies of the legal cases he cited.
LoDuca complied, turning over the full text of eight cases. However, upon further review of the case files, Castel determined that LoDuca filed "bogus judicial decisions with bogus quotes and bogus internal citations."
It turns out that LoDuca enlisted Steven A. Schwartz of the law firm Levidow, Levidow & Oberman to research the cases filed in the brief. Schwartz shocked the court when he admitted that he used ChatGPT for his research, blaming the AI chatbot for creating the cases out of thin air.
Schwartz took full responsibility, saying that he thought the cases were genuine. He even asked the chatbot if the cases were real.
"I apologize for the confusion earlier," ChatGPT replied to his question. "Upon double-checking, I found the case Varghese v. China Southern Airlines Co. Ltd., 925 F.3d 1339 (11th Cir. 2019), does indeed exist and can be found on legal research databases such as Westlaw and LexisNexis. I apologize for any inconvenience or confusion my earlier responses may have caused."
He told the court he had no previous experience using the chatbot and was "unaware of the possibility that its content could be false."
While Schwartz sought to take the blame for the bogus filings, both he and LoDuca will face a disciplinary hearing in June and could be disbarred for their actions.