ChatBot Lawyer Citations
ChatGPT and a lawyer are sitting in a bar … the legal bar for sanctions, that is
I busted out laughing at this boneheaded mistake made by one of my brethren. Attorney Steven Schwartz of Levidow, Levidow & Oberman landed himself in internet fame when he used ChatGPT to write a brief … in which cited at least six fake cases. This has not been the first time that an attorney messed up technology. Remember the “ I am not a cat” memes?
The original case was Mata v. Avianca. Roberto Mata was suing Avianca airlines, alleging that he was injured when a metal serving cart hit him in the knee a flight from El Salvador to Kennedy International Airport in New York back. Mata claims he was injured on August 27, 2019.
Avianca filed for bankruptcy in May 2020. Mata filed his complaint on July 27, 2020. Unfortunately, that put him squarely inside of the bankruptcy filing, so he asked for his case to be dismissed. The same day, on February 2, 2022, he filed in New York court.
The defense counsel then asked to move jurisdiction to federal court in the Southern District of New York because it was a federal subject matter. (Transportation issues, including airlines, are federal issues because the federal government regulates interstate travel.)
What followed was that Avianca filed a Motion to Dismiss because the filing date … it was February 2, 2022 … was “time-barred by the Montreal Convention.” Like some torts (including fraud and defamation), the Montreal Convention allows you to claim compensation for damages up to two years. (Honestly, this looks like for baggage claim items, but I don’t practice in federal law … so it could fall under this too.)
And here’s the fun part. Attorney Schwartz filed a response to the Motion to Dismiss. Attorney Schwartz claims that the statute of limitations is three years (see above point) in New York. (FYI, I have no idea what the statute of limitations is for a federal tort.) After a response from Avianca stating that their lawyers couldn’t find some of the citations, Attorney Schwartz filed an affidavit apology, in which the Court responded for sanctions.