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Whistleblower suit accuses Northwestern University, Northwestern Memorial Hospital of defrauding government

August 26 2004   A news conference law office KevE. O'Reilly is entertained by AudrSoulias (pictured) her attorney who

August 26, 2004 A news conference at the law office of Kevin E. O'Reilly is entertained by Audra Soulias (pictured) and her attorney who have filed a lawsuit against William Kennedy Smith, MD, alleging that he sexually assaulted her. (Photo by Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times)

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Updated: December 3, 2012 6:51AM

A whistleblower lawsuit recently unveiled in U.S. District Court accuses Northwestern University and Northwestern Memorial Hospital of defrauding the federal government by double-billing for patient care.

Filed in November 2010, the suit had remained sealed until July, when federal prosecutors who had been reviewing its claims declined to add the U.S. government as a plaintiff.

Former employee Audra Soulias, 36, alleges in the suit that the university and hospital violated the False Claims Act by collecting reimbursement from both Medicare and the National Institutes of Health for the same patients.

Soulias seeks a portion of damages the federal government allegedly sustained, as provided for under federal whistleblower laws.

A spokeswoman for the hospital declined comment, saying its attorneys only recently received the suit, which was up for a status hearing Thursday before U.S. District Judge Elaine Bucklo. It was continued to Dec. 12.

A university spokesman said its attorneys have not been formally served with the suit but believes it should not be a party to it. “It appears to center on the issue of Medicare billing, which Northwestern University is not involved in. The university does not seem to be a proper party to the lawsuit and should be dismissed from the lawsuit,” said spokesman Alan Cubbage.

In 2004, the plaintiff was involved in another high-profile lawsuit.

She’d sued her former boss, William Kennedy Smith of the Kennedy family, after accusing the physician of sexually assaulting her at his home on her 23rd birthday. Smith denied it, and maintained the two had a consensual relationship that went sour. Her suit was later dismissed by the courts, and no criminal charges were ever filed.

In the whistleblower lawsuit, Soulias alleges the university and hospital engaged in double billing Medicare and NIH for hospital patients enrolled in NIH-funded clinical trials, and then laid her off after she brought concerns about the practice to her supervisor


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