You may have recently seen press reports about lawyers who filed and submitted papers to the federal district court for the Southern District of New York that included citations to cases and decisions that, as it turned out, were wholly made up; they did not exist. The lawyers in that case used the generative artificial intelligence (AI) program ChatGPT to perform their legal research for the court submission, but did not realize that ChatGPT had fabricated the citations and decisions. This case should serve as a cautionary tale for individuals seeking to use AI in connection with legal research, legal questions, or other legal issues, even outside of the litigation context.
In Mata v. Avianca, Inc., the plaintiff brought tort claims against an airline for injuries allegedly sustained when one of its employees hit him with a metal serving cart. The airline filed a motion to dismiss the case. The plaintiff’s lawyer filed an opposition to that motion that included citations to several purported court decisions in its argument. On reply, the airline asserted that a number of the court decisions cited by the plaintiff’s attorney could not be found, and appeared not to exist, while two others were cited incorrectly and, more importantly, did not say what plaintiff’s counsel claimed. The Court directed plaintiff’s counsel to submit an affidavit attaching the problematic decisions identified by the airline.Continue Reading Use of ChatGPT in Federal Litigation Holds Lessons for Lawyers and Non-Lawyers Everywhere