Judge Castel, in his order calling for a hearing, suggested that he had made his own inquiry. He wrote that the clerk of the 11th Circuit had confirmed that the docket number printed on the purported Varghese opinion was connected to an entirely different case.
Calling the opinion “bogus,” Judge Castel noted that it contained internal citations and quotes that, in turn, were nonexistent. He said that five of the other decisions submitted by Mr. Mata’s lawyers also appeared to be fake.
On Thursday, Mr. Mata’s lawyers offered affidavits containing their version of what had happened.
Mr. Schwartz wrote that he had originally filed Mr. Mata’s lawsuit in state court, but after the airline had it transferred to Manhattan’s federal court, where Mr. Schwartz is not admitted to practice, one of his colleagues, Mr. LoDuca, became the attorney of record. Mr. Schwartz said he had continued to do the legal research, in which Mr. LoDuca had no role.
Mr. Schwartz said that he had consulted ChatGPT “to supplement” his own work and that, “in consultation” with it, found and cited the half-dozen nonexistent cases. He said ChatGPT had provided reassurances.
“Is varghese a real case,” he typed, according to a copy of the exchange that he submitted to the judge.