Attorneys and Law Firm Fined $5K After Using Fake Citations Provided By ChatGPT

Attorneys and Law Firm Fined $5K After Using Fake Citations Provided By ChatGPT

A judge has fined two lawyers and the law firm they work for $5,000 after submitting fake case citations generated by the AI platform ChatGPT.

The Guardian reports New York Attorney Steven Schwartz, his associate Peter LoDuca, and the law firm Levidow, Levidow, and Oberman were fined by Judge P. Kevin Castel. The fine came after Schwartz admitted he used the platform, which invented six cases he later referred to in a legal brief in a lawsuit against Colombian-based airline Avianca.

In a written opinion, Castel said it wasn’t wrong for the attorneys to use ChatGPT for assisting in legal work. However, the attorneys should have made sure the filings were accurate.

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

In the case, a man sued Avianca, alleging he was injured during a flight to New York City. Levidow, Levidow & Oberman said that its lawyers “respectfully disagreed” with the judge’s determination that the attorneys acted in bad faith.

Although artificial intelligence seems to be the next technological wave, chatbots like ChatGPT, which was developed by OpenAI, are prone to inaccuracies, and this isn’t the first example. In April, ChatGPT falsely accused George Washington University Professor Jonathan Turley of sexually harassing a student.

“It invented an allegation where I was on the faculty at a school where I have never taught, went on a trip that I never took, and reported an allegation that was never made,” Turley told The New York Post. “It is highly ironic because I have been writing about the dangers of AI to free speech.”

Turley became aware of the situation when UCLA Professor Eugene Volokh asked the platform to cite “five examples of sexual harassment at American law schools, along with quotes from relevant newspaper articles.

One of the examples cited was an alleged 2018 incident where “Georgetown University Law Center” professor Turley was accused of sexual harassment by a former female student. ChatGPT quoted a fake Washington Post article: “The complaint alleges that Turley made ‘sexually suggestive comments’ and ‘attempted to touch her sexually’ during a law school-sponsored trip to Alaska.”