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Lawyers fined $5K for using ChatGPT to file lawsuit filled with fake cases

June 23, 2023

ChatGPT couldn’t have written a better outcome for the lawyers who used the AI chatbot to file a lawsuit filled with citations of completely non-existent cases.

On Thursday, a federal judge decided(opens in a new tab) not to impose sanctions that could’ve derailed the careers of attorneys Steven Schwartz and Peter LoDuca of the law firm Levidow, Levidow & Oberman.

Judge P. Kevin Castel instead let the lawyers off with a slap on the wrist: A $5,000 fine for acting in “bad faith.”

Basically, the judge decided to impose a fine on the two attorneys for “shifting and contradictory explanations” and lying to the court at first when trying to defend the legal filing they submitted which cited six cases that simply did not exist.

Castel also ordered(opens in a new tab) the lawyers to notify the judges that were cited in their error-laden legal filing as the authors of the six fake cases created whole cloth by ChatGPT. While the cases were made-up, the judges that ChatGPT attached to them all exist.

The judge felt the subsequent apologies from the lawyers sufficed and did not warrant further sanctions.

In his ruling, Castel noted that he didn’t have a problem with the use of AI in law. However, the lawyers were negligent in their duty to make sure the research was accurate.

“Technological advances are commonplace and there is nothing inherently improper about using a reliable artificial intelligence tool for assistance,” the judge said. “But existing rules impose a gatekeeping role on attorneys to ensure the accuracy of their filings.”

While things could’ve gone much worse for Schwartz and LoDuca, the law firm is considering an appeal.

“We respectfully disagree with the finding that anyone at our firm acted in bad faith,” Levidow, Levidow & Oberman said in a statement. “We have already apologized to the Court and our client. We continue to believe that in the face of what even the Court acknowledged was an unprecedented situation, we made a good faith mistake in failing to believe that a piece of technology could be making up cases out of whole cloth.”

This saga began when a client of the firm wanted to sue an airline after they allegedly injured their knee on a flight. Schwartz took up the case and used ChatGPT for his legal research. The AI chatbot returned six similar previous cases it claimed it had found and the lawyer included this into his filing. Everything was signed off by LoDuca, who technically was representing the client as he is admitted to the federal courts whereas Schwartz is not.

Unfortunately for the two lawyers, ChatGPT completely fabricated those six cases and the two attempted to argue their way out of admitting they wholly depended on an AI chatbot and did not lookover its claims.

As for that underlying case brought by their client against the airline, the judge tossed the case due to the statute of limitations expiring.

 

Source: Mashable

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