ChatGPT Sanctions Matter: Auto-generated Summary of Opinion & Order

OPINION AND ORDER ON SANCTIONS

I. Introduction
Decision and Order addresses the issue of sanctions of Plaintiff's attorneys arising in the personal injury lawsuit between Roberto Mata (Plaintiff) and Avianca, Inc. (Defendant) in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York (Case No. 22-cv-1461 (PKC)). The court has found that the Respondents, Peter LoDuca, Steven A. Schwartz, and the law firm of Levidow, Levidow & Oberman P.C. (the "Levidow Firm"), submitted non-existent judicial opinions with fake quotes and citations created by the artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT. The court has determined that Rule 11, Fed. R. Civ. P., has been violated and sanctions are warranted.

II. Background

The personal injury lawsuit was commenced by Roberto Mata on February 2, 2022, in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County. The lawsuit was subsequently removed to federal court on February 22, 2022, based on federal question jurisdiction under the Montreal Convention. The case was assigned to Judge Castel, U.S.D.J., in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York.

III. Findings

1. The Respondents, Peter LoDuca, Steven A. Schwartz, and the Levidow Firm, submitted non-existent judicial opinions with fake quotes and citations created by ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence tool.

2. Rule 11, Fed. R. Civ. P., imposes a gatekeeping role on attorneys to ensure the accuracy of their filings.

3. The submission of fake opinions causes harm, including wasting the opposing party's time and money and taking the Court's time from other matters.

4. Potential harm is demonstrated by the innocent mistake made by Counsel for Mr. Schwartz and the Levidow Firm in including three of the fake cases in their Table of Authorities in the initial version of the brief in response to the Orders to Show Cause submitted to the Court. They promptly caught and corrected this mistake on their own.

5. The individual Respondents did not begin to reveal the truth until after the Court issued an Order to Show Cause why one of them should not be sanctioned.

6. The Court found bad faith on the part of the individual Respondents based on acts of conscious avoidance and false and misleading statements to the Court.

7. Sanctions will be imposed on the individual Respondents and jointly on the Levidow Firm, as there are no exceptional circumstances found.

8. The sanctions are limited to what is necessary to deter repetition of the conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated.

IV. Analysis

A. Rule 11 Violations

Rule 11, Fed. R. Civ. P., imposes a duty on attorneys to ensure the accuracy of their filings and prohibits the submission of false or misleading information to the court. The Respondents, Peter LoDuca, Steven A. Schwartz, and the Levidow Firm, violated Rule 11 by submitting non-existent judicial opinions with fake quotes and citations. These actions constitute a violation of Rule 11(b)(2), which requires that attorneys certify that their legal contentions are warranted by existing law or a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law.

The Court has determined that the Respondents' actions were not mere negligence or mistake, but rather constituted subjective bad faith. The individual Respondents consciously avoided confirming the existence of the fake cases and knowingly submitted false and misleading information to the Court. Mr. Schwartz, in particular, relied on ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence tool, to generate the fake cases and quotes, and then presented them as genuine legal authorities. This conduct demonstrates a lack of due diligence and a disregard for the truth.

B. Sanctions

The Court has the authority to impose sanctions under Rule 11 or its inherent power. Sanctions should be imposed with restraint and discretion, and the least severe sanctions necessary to achieve the goal of deterrence should be utilized. In this case, the Court has considered the significant publicity generated by Respondents' actions, their expressions of remorse, and the remedial measures taken by the Levidow Firm, including mandatory training on technological competence and notarization practices.

The Court concludes that a penalty of $5,000, to be paid jointly and severally by the Respondents into the Registry of the Court, is sufficient but not more than necessary to advance the goals of specific and general deterrence. This penalty serves as a deterrent to the Respondents and others similarly situated, while also taking into account the specific circumstances of this case.

V. Conclusion

Based on the violations of Rule 11 and the Court's inherent power, the Respondents, Peter LoDuca, Steven A. Schwartz, and the Levidow Firm, are sanctioned for their submission of non-existent judicial opinions with fake quotes and citations. A penalty of $5,000 is imposed, to be paid jointly and severally into the Registry of the Court. The Respondents are also required to inform their client and the judges whose names were wrongfully invoked of the sanctions imposed.
Honorable P. Kevin Castel, United States District Judge
June 22, 2023

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Summary Memorandum Auto-Generated by CereBel Legal Intelligence

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