Lawyer loses case against airline after he’s lied to by ChatGPT

Lawyer uses ChatGPT
By Linsey McNeill
01/06/2023
Home » Lawyer loses case against airline after he’s lied to by ChatGPT

A lawyer lost a case against an airline after it was discovered he’d relied on false information provided by ChatGPT.

Steven A Schwartz tried to bring a case against Colombian carrier Avianca on behalf of a passenger who claimed a food trolley had injured his knee during a flight to New York.

When Avianca asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit based on the statute of limitations, Mr Schwartz submitted a brief based on research by artificial intelligence ChatGPT.

It cited numerous previous legal cases that he was relying on to win his argument – but they didn’t exist.

The error was discovered when Avianca’s lawyers told the New York judge that they couldn’t locate the cases, including Martinez vs Delta Air Lines, Zicherman vs Korean Air Lines and Varghese vs China Southern Airlines.

“It seemed clear when we didn’t recognize any of the cases in their opposition brief that something was amiss,” Avianca’s lawyer Bart Banino, of Condon & Forsyth, told CBS MoneyWatch. “We figured it was some sort of chatbot of some kind.” 

Mr Schwartz admitted he had used ChatGPT to supplement his legal research, and that the AI tool was ‘a source that has revealed itself to be unreliable’, added CBS.

The lawyer added that it was the first time he’d used ChatGPT for work and ‘therefore was unaware of the possibility that its content could be false’.

He said he had asked AI to confirm that the cases were real and it had insisted they could be found in legal databases.

A judge will consider in a hearing next week whether to sanction Schwartz and his law firm Levidow, Levidow & Oberman.

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