A law firm was fined $5,000 after one of its lawyers used ChatGPT to write a court brief riddled with fake case references

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  • A law firm was fined $5,000 after one of its lawyers used ChatGPT to write a court brief.

  • The document had included references to some cases and opinions that didn’t exist.

  • The lawyer said he had “no idea” ChatGPT could fabricate information.

A law firm was fined $5,000 after a court found that one of its lawyers had used ChatGPT to write a court brief which included false citations.

The initial lawsuit was filed last year on behalf of a passenger who claimed he was injured by a metal serving cart during an Avianca flight.

Steven Schwartz of New York law firm Levidow, Levidow & Oberman, P.C., which is respresenting the passenger, had fed prompts to the AI chatbot including “show me specific holdings in federal cases where the statute of limitations was tolled due to bankruptcy of the airline” as part of his research, court filings show.

Schwartz included references to a number of fake cases and opinions ChatGPT generated in an affirmation in opposition filed on March 1 this year, the court documents show. Although fellow Levidow, Levidow & Oberman attorney Peter LoDuca had signed and filed the affirmation in opposition, Schwartz said that he had been the one to research and write the brief.

P. Kevin Castel, US district judge for the Southern District of New York, wrote in a sanctions order on Thursday that suspicions over the use of artificial intelligence arose after both Avianca and the court itself had been unable to locate several of the cases cited in the filing. Condon & Forsyth, the law firm representing Avianca, said that its lawyers “we were able to recognize right away that the cases were not real,”

Schwartz admitted in an affidavit on May 24 that he had used ChatGPT “to supplement

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