Qui tam is explained here:
There is an interesting contradiction between the second website above, created by an investigation and consulting firm that specializes in qui tam suits, and the Wikipedia article on qui tam.
The contradiction relates to whether it is better for the government to decline the action.
"If the government does not decide to participate in a qui tam action, the relator may proceed on his or her own, though such cases classically have a much lower success rate. Conventional wisdom states that this is due in part to the fact that the government will get involved in what it believes are winning cases, but will avoid losing cases."
Although not necessarily addressing the success rate, the consulting firm states:
"If the relator is able to proceed on his or her own, there are some advantages for doing so. One is that the relator will receive a larger award if successful. Secondly, the relator - if he or she has good attorneys and other resources available, will have a better chance of being successful then if the DoJ controlled the case. Private litigants are generally more resourceful, creative and flexible than the government because they do not have the political and bureaucratic restraints found with government agencies."
In other words, a lower success rate does not necessarily correspond to a weaker case on the merits, but to the problem of private plaintiffs mounting a case against large corporations. And given the political reality that governments might not always act against fraud by politically powerful corporations, it is not necessarily fair or accurate to judge the merits of a case by whether or not the government chooses to intervene. Here, it is not at all surprising that the government chose not to intervene. They could intervene later--I wonder what that would allow them to do.
I just hope Dr. Reynolds and his attorney have the resources to proceed with this case, because they are suing a number of corporations, several of which are very rich and powerful.
Here are some other websites dealing with qui tam cases:
Private plaintiff ("relator") side: