Treasurer of the Allen County Bar Association 2017-2018

Dusty Roach has been elected Treasurer of the Allen County Bar Association for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Dusty has served on the Executive Board of Directors for 4 years and has been active on several Committees, including Strategic Planning, and Hiring. He has also worked on Pro Bono programs to provide legal services to those who are unable to afford attorneys.

Ann Trzynka and David Van Gilder presented on the topic of Workers Compensation

Ann Trzynka and David Van Gilder presented on the topic of Workers Compensation and the interplay between work injuries and Social Security Disability on March 9, 2017, in Fort Wayne. Sterling Education organized the day-long seminar and invited Van Gilder and Trzynka to share their expertise. David has been representing clients in workers compensation since 1990. Ann handles Social Security disability claims at all administrative levels of review and in federal district court.

VGT Attorneys Attended Chicago Bar Association Social Security Disability Conference

On September 16 and September 17, 2016, Attorney Ann Trzynka and Attorney Lindsay Davenport attended a social security disability conference in Chicago, Illinois. The conference offered important practice tips and information to attorneys who assist their clients with appealing unfavorable hearing decisions. We will not give up when our clients receive an unfavorable hearing level decision. Our firm handles cases at the appeals council and federal district court levels. If you have received an unfavorable hearing level decision in the last 60 days, you have the option to appeal. Call us to discuss your legal options today.

Successful Court of Appeals Case

Van Gilder & Trzynka often engages in difficult litigation that other attorneys will not handle, and that means we have worked on many cases in the Indiana Court of Appeals. The firm recently won an appellate decision in a hard-fought medical case by using the medical provider’s own testimony to establish the standard of care and showing that the provider likely violated that standard. In our many years of litigation experience we have seen that the law is not static – we must always push to achieve a good result for our clients.

Indiana Malpractice Suits

Indiana is among states with the most difficult climate for an injured patient to pursue a malpractice claim against a medical provider. This year the Indiana General Assembly passed a bill to raise the cap on damages for the first time in twenty years. The legislation, SB28, Increases the maximum amount recoverable for an injury or a death of a patient in a medical malpractice action from $1,250,000 to $1,650,000 after June 30, 2017. Increases the maximum amount recoverable from a health care provider in a medical malpractice action from $250,000 to $400,000 after June 30, 2017. Further increases will take effect in 2019. Many people call Van Gilder & Trzynka to ask about injuries they believe were caused by medical negligence. The firm does help these callers understand the law, investigate their claims, and pursue remedies if appropriate.

Advocacy becomes career for Fort Wayne attorney

Our own David Van Gilder was featured in the Fort Wayne Business Weekly. See below.

How would you describe your law firm?

We are five lawyers and six support staff dedicated to providing effective, cost-efficient and compassionate legal services. We have a general legal practice, but excel in handling injury and Social Security disability claims.

Our work also involves the basic legal needs that most people will have in their life: we advise people on wills and other estate planning documents, we help people start and maintain small businesses, we advise people on family law matters, and we assist persons who have been injured at work or by car accident.

How did you become interested in law and the specialties for which you are known, then eventually co-found and grow Van Gilder & Trzynka while developing legal expertise in the protection of natural and cultural areas?

Advocacy becomes career for Fort Wayne attorney

I was interested in land use and environmental issues all throughout my undergraduate studies and planned to create a law practice to use that expertise. I have also long been an advocate for those persons who have the least power in our community.

After serving with the Peace Corps Volunteers in Botswana, I was fortunate to find Fort Wayne, a welcoming city for this kind of law firm. Our general family practice allows us to make a living and to pursue our legal passions.

All of the lawyers in the firm share a commitment to help people, especially those who are hurting and require representation against powerful insurance companies and other entities.

We view the community as a whole: justice for the people and the natural environment is essential for a progressive and protective community.

How have you been able to contribute to the community through the professional skills you have honed and what brought you to the Fort Wayne-New Haven area?

All of the attorneys in the firm contribute to the community through service on nonprofit boards, in addition to their legal work.

I have long been a director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, ACRES Land Trust, ARCH and the Friends of Cedar Creek, in addition to service on the boards of the Allen County Bar Association and the Allen County Bar Foundation.

Ann Trzynka is a director of Lutheran Social Services, and she is City Attorney for New Haven. Dustin Roach serves the Allen County Bar Foundation. Andrew Simmons and Lindsay Davenport also volunteer on service boards.

What is ahead for Van Gilder & Trzynka?

Van Gilder & Trzynka will continue to expand its work helping people with Social Security disability claims and advocating for individuals who are injured by others and in the workplace.

We will also grow our representation of individuals estate planning and family law matters. I hope to continue my advocacy on behalf of individuals and interest groups in land use and environmental disputes.

What do you like about the work?

I enjoy using my experience over the past 25 years to advocate for my clients. Each client is unique, and the challenge of the work – applying new research skills together with long experience – is what I like best.

What moments in your career development stand out the most so far?

One of the most rewarding things we do at Van Gilder & Trzynka is our volunteer lawyer work. When we help a client through a family law dispute and she sends us a heartfelt thank-you note our sense of accomplishment is multiplied.

We made a decision early on that our lawyers would use their talents to earn a living, but always balanced with volunteer legal work for the benefit of the community.

What advice have you found the most valuable while developing your career and the business of Van Gilder & Trzynka?

I have worked with an accomplished group of lawyers since the firm was established in 1996.

Three have become judges, and I think the firm’s success is because of our culture of service and integrity.

Of course, many lawyers are strong advocates, but our combination of hard work, dedication to clients, and the highest ethics has made Van Gilder & Trzynka a successful small law firm.

By Doug LeDuc. To suggest a “Career Path,” call (260)426-2640 or email

Name: David Van Gilder
Age: 57
Title: Cofounder
Company: Van Gilder & Trzynka PC Founded: 1996

Location: 436 E. Wayne St. (The former Goodrich Tire Service Center, originally built in 1929, then renovated and repurposed as law offices.)

Employs: Five lawyers and six support staff

Education: Earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio; earned a law degree from American University’s Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C.

Other: 2015 Allen County Bar Association’s Niemann Citation for Excellence and Professionalism; 2013 Indiana Bar Foundation’s Randall T. Shepard Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Publico

Ann Trzynka Will Become Chairperson of the Board for Lutheran Social Services of Indiana

Ann Trzynka will become chairperson of the board for Lutheran Social Services of Indiana in April 2016. She has served the board as vice chair this past year and as a member since 2011. Ann will lead the board in “the important mission of expressing the love of Jesus Christ for all people through services that empower individuals and families to move toward social, emotional, and spriritual wholeness.” Ann’s focus at Van Gilder & Trzynka is on assisting individuals to obtain disability benefits, which also contributes to the empowerment of individuals and families.

Ann Trzynka speaks to the Allen County Bar Association

Ann Trzynka recently spoke to the Allen County Bar Association regarding Medicaid and Social Security Disability Issues for Estate Planners. Ann’s presentation focused on basic Disability criteria, Disabled Adult Child Claims, and the distinctions between Chapter II (Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits) and Title XVI (Supplemental Security Income).
Ann’s practice is focused almost exclusively on Social Security representation from Initial Claims through the various Appeal levels. Rounding out the Van Gilder & Trzynka Social Security team are Attorney Lindsay Davenport and Legal Assistant Susannah Chadwell.

VGT Update

Andrew Simmons has recently been named to the Board of the Planned Giving Council of Northeast Indians. He had also been named Co-Chairperson of the Programs Committee.

The Planned Giving Council is comprised of charitable gift planning professionals whose goal is to educate and promote charitable giving in Northeast Indiana.

Andrew is also a Board member of Camp Watcha Wanna Do, a non profit organization committed to enhancing the lives of children living with cancer.

Indiana Enacted the CARE Act

Indiana has enacted the Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable (CARE) Act, effect as of January 1, 2016. CARE is designed to ease a patient’s transition from hospital to home. The law provides:

  • Hospital patients or their health care representative can designate a friend or family member as a lay caregiver. A health care representative may also serve as a lay caregiver.
  • Prior to a patient’s discharge from the hospital, hospital staff will prepare a home care plan that describes the patient’s post-hospitalization needs. Home care plans may include instructions for medical tasks such as dressing wounds or managing medications.
  • If necessary, hospital staff may provide the lay caregiver with a live or recorded demonstration of the care described in the patient’s home care plan.
  • You are not obligated to appoint a lay caregiver and the designation of a lay caregiver does not obligate that individual to perform any in-home care.
Andrew Simmons at Van Gilder & Trzynka can answer questions about how the appointment of a lay caregiver can be part of your overall Estate planning.

NOSSCR Conference

Ann Trzynka presents at NOSSCR Conference regarding attorney ethics and evidence submission in Social Security disability claims

In October 2015 the National Organization of Social Security Claimant Representatives (NOSSCR) held a four-day conference in Denver, Colorado. The NOSSCR conferences include continuing legal education programs on topics related to Social Security Disability. At the Denver conference, Ms. Trzynka spoke and co-authorized materials for a session entitled New Evidence Submission Rules, Fulfilling Ethical Obligations, and Avoiding Sanctions. Ms. Trzynka’s presentation addressed attorney ethical obligations and new SSA rules effective April 2015 concerning the submission of evidence in Social Security Disability claims. Co-presenters included Kansas attorney and former SSA administrative law judge, Jennifer Fisher, and Iowa attorney Timothy Tripp.