News | Morningside Heights

Columbia lawsuit over St. Luke's commitment dismissed

  • DISMISSED | A judge dismissed a lawsuit accusing Columbia of involuntarily committing a student to St. Luke's for 30 days has been dismissed.

A lawsuit accusing Columbia of involuntarily committing a student to St. Luke's Hospital for 30 days after he called his Spanish teacher a ‘bitch’ has been dismissed—but the student plans to re-file the suit.

Former Columbia-Juilliard student Oren Ungerleider sued the University and Continuum Health Partners—the organization that owns St. Luke’s—in January, alleging that he was kept at the hospital against his will in December 2010.

Judge Katherine Forrest dismissed the suit on June 21, ruling that neither Columbia nor Continuum were acting on behalf of a governmental body and thus were not subject to the student's federal civil rights protections.

“There is, in short, no state action here and, accordingly, no basis for federal jurisdiction,” Forrest wrote in her judgment.

Ungerleider said in his complaint that after he cursed at his Spanish teacher during a final exam, he was taken from his dorm room to the hospital by police officers at 12:30 a.m. He also accused several doctors of forcibly injecting him with haldol.

Ungerleider, now a student at The Ohio State University, declined to comment, but his lawyer, Daniel Rubenstein, said he would be re-filing the case in state court.

“We are quite satisfied with the judge's ruling,” a Continuum Health spokesperson said.

A Columbia spokesperson declined to comment.

Casey Tolan contributed reporting.  |  @abby_abrams


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Anonymous posted on

He threatened the professor. Obviously Columbia and the hospital have every right to protect everyone involved.

You voted '+1'.