In 2004, Van Naarden shifted his passion for pursuing justice to the civil arena by fighting for those who were catastrophically injured as a result of the misconduct of others.
In July 2017, Van Naarden won a verdict of nearly $5.1 million in a medical malpractice case involving the wrongful death of a man caused by a surgery that should never have been performed.
He has taken on the most complex and challenging of cases, and through his diverse background and aggressive litigation style has been able to obtain substantial victories for his clients.
The verdict is the highest wrongful death verdict in the history of Mercer County, Pennsylvania. It also ranked as the third largest medical malpractice verdict in Pennsylvania in 2017, and was among the top 10 highest verdicts for all personal injury cases in the state that year, according to The Legal Intelligencer’s list of “Top Verdicts.”
In the two-week trial, Van Naarden convinced the jury that an orthopedic surgeon didn’t review the latest x-rays before performing total hip replacement surgery on Thomas A. Natale, Jr. The x-ray report indicated Natale, 57, was suffering from pain, a high fever, and shortness of breath and should never had been operated on (learn more about the case).
Just two months later, Van Naarden won another verdict – this time in Mercer County, N.J. for more than $6 million – for the family of the late-Toniquea Rivers. The 20-year-old Trenton woman died as a result of medical negligence on the part of paramedics just days after giving birth to her son.
Over the course of the trial, Van Naarden proved to the jury that Rivers died because Capital Health Systems allowed an untrained, unskilled student paramedic to intubate her and monitor her on the way to the hospital during which the endotracheal tube became dislodged – a fact that went unnoticed. To win the verdict, Van Naarden had to overcome New Jersey’s restrictive legal tenant known as “qualified immunity,” which provides paramedics extra protection against negligence claims (read The Trentonian’s story). Law360 called the verdict “NJ’s First For EMT Misconduct” (read the story).
In February 2016, Van Naarden won a Philadelphia jury verdict of more than $5 million on behalf of two men who were injured as a result of medical malpractice after doctors failed to properly treat a chemical burn to their hands. As a result, one of the men, Antonio Crespo, an up-and-coming Latino guitarist, lost portions of two fingers and can no longer professionally play the 10-string cuatro guitar for which he was known. The verdict made The Legal Intelligencer’s list of the largest verdicts in Pennsylvania for 2016 (read about the case).
Van Naarden won a medical malpractice verdict for an elementary school teacher from Pittston, Pennsylvania.
During the trial in Luzerne County, Van Naarden demonstrated that his client’s physician treated her with the potent antibiotic Zyvox for 94 days, more than three times the duration proven to be safe. The extended use caused peripheral neuropathy—numbness in her hands and feet. Although the client has returned to the classroom, Van Naarden convinced the jury that her condition caused catastrophic pain and suffering. A $900,000 verdict was reached in the case. With delayed damages, the award rose to more than $1 million.
In July 2013, Van Naarden successfully litigated a case in Camden, New Jersey, on behalf of the family of a 62-year-old woman who died as a result of medical malpractice.
The woman died of a bowel obstruction—a condition that would have been detected and easily corrected by surgery if a routine test was performed sooner. During the two week trial, Van Naarden proved that the test that would have saved the woman’s life was inappropriately delayed by her treating gastroenterologist. The jury reached a $750,000 verdict in the case, but the award topped $1 million with delayed damages.
Van Naarden also won a major case in Philadelphia involving the death of a premature baby born at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Van Naarden convinced a jury that the hospital didn’t have proper procedures and policies in place that would have required Chantal E. Vonner to be seen by an attending physician for a weakened cervix.
As a result, the 25-year-old first-time mother was seen by a physician in training and discharged without undergoing a procedure known as a cerclage, a stitch that would have strengthened the cervix and reduced the risk to her child, Amethyst. The hospital argued that it never performs the cerclage procedure because it is not effective. But Van Naarden successfully debunked that by pointing to the institution’s own website, which advertised cervical cerclages.
Amethyst was born alive, but survived less than two hours. After a weeklong trial, the jury returned a $3 million verdict in the case, including $2 million for Amethyst’s pain and suffering, which is believed to be among the largest awards for a child born after less than 20 weeks. The verdict went on to become the second largest medical malpractice verdict for Philadelphia County in 2010.
Van Naarden was lead counsel on several other notable cases, including:
- A $10.2 million verdict for the occupants of a van involved in a motor vehicle accident
- A $1.25 million settlement for the estate of an 18-year-old shot by his friend by mistake
- An $800,000 verdict in Chester County for a man who suffered a perforated eardrum when a doctor tried to remove wax
He has also worked with other lawyers in winning major recoveries.
Van Naarden assisted founding partner Matt Casey in the record-setting case of a 30-year-old University of Pennsylvania medical student who fell through an open manhole on his way to classes, shattering his spine. A jury in 2008 awarded a stunning $85 million verdict (read about the case).
In May 2012, Van Naarden assisted Casey in winning a $6.4 million verdict for the children of a Philadelphia man who died as a result of medical malpractice. The case involved two Temple University Hospital emergency room physicians who had misdiagnosed Derrick Harlem’s heart condition as pneumonia. Harlem was discharged only to die of a massive heart attack months later. The verdict was among the largest in years in Pennsylvania for a medical malpractice case involving a death.
Van Naarden graduated with a B.A. in political science from Lehigh University in 1997. In 2000, he received his Juris Doctor degree from Villanova University Law School, followed by an LL.M. degree in trial advocacy in 2004 from Temple University School of Law, where he not only graduated with honors, but was also presented with the Jury Favorite Award.
In 2017, Van Naarden was inducted into Lower Moreland High School’s Hall of Fame, which honors graduates who have excelled in their chosen careers, community service or personal accomplishments. The honor was bestowed upon Van Naarden for dedicating his legal career to advocating for victims of crimes as an Assistant District Attorney and families that have suffered catastrophic injuries due to negligent conduct.