When the United States government decides to intervene in False Claims Act litigation after initially declining intervention, it is not “déjà vu all over again.” Instead, as one court has recognized, the “government is getting on a moving train,” and it can only be permitted to “intervene at a later date” if it can show “good cause” for doing so. See 31 U.S.C. § 3730(c)(3).
On February 24, 2021, a Tennessee federal district court offered a pointed reminder of this principle when it denied a government motion to intervene in a qui tam suit after DOJ originally had declined to intervene six months earlier. See U.S. ex rel. Odom v. Southeast Eye Specialists, No. 3:17-cv-00689 (M.D. Tenn. Feb. 24, 2021). In so ruling, the court vacated a magistrate judge’s Report & Recommendation (“R&R”), which found that DOJ had established “good cause” for intervention. Although motions to intervene pursuant to Section 3730(c) are often granted, the recent order issued in U.S. ex rel. Odom v. Southeast Eye Specialists illustrates that the “good cause” showing is not a hollow requirement and that it can serve as a meaningful constraint on belated attempts by DOJ to intervene to pursue a case after initially declining to do so.