Despite a federal judge dismissing most of his claims against the village in August, North Riverside Police Detective Sgt. Frank Schmalz has refiled his lawsuit against North Riverside and eight former and present village officials in U.S District Court.
On Sept. 19, Schmalz filed an amended complaint, naming North Riverside Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr.; former Mayor Kenneth Krochmal; Trustees H. Bob Demopoulos and Vera Wilt; former trustees Rocco DeSantis, Randy Czajka and Tom Corgiat; and Police Chief Lane Niemann as defendants.
The four-count complaint seeks to tie all of the defendants together as conspiring to deny Schmalz a promotion and derail his career for supporting a rival political party during the 2013 village election. The suit also includes a defamation complaint against Krochmal for statements the former mayor allegedly made in public outside the Village Commons polling place on Election Day, April 9, 2013.
The lawsuit, like the previous one Schmalz filed in November 2013, seeks unspecified monetary damages.
Schmalz’s amended complaint against the village is more tightly focused than his initial suit, zeroing in on what he claims was a pattern of behavior on the part of officials to retaliate against him for his support of the Transparency and Accountability in Politics slate, which included DeSantis and was aligned with Demopoulos.
He continues to insist that the village had an obligation to promote him to the rank of lieutenant, since he was the only person on the promotion eligibility list and because the village’s own policy required lieutenant vacancies to be filled.
Schmalz alleges that Krochmal, Hermanek, Niemann and Corgiat made specific comments indicating Schmalz wouldn’t be promoted as a result of his constitutionally protected political activities.
The lawsuit doesn’t attribute any specific statements to DeSantis, Demopoulos, Wilt and Czajka. They are included in the lawsuit, because they were members of the village board at the time officials allegedly conspired to retaliate against Schmalz and, as such, “were final policy makers for the village of North Riverside.”
Hermanek, who was elected mayor in April 2013, was part of the VIP Party slate Schmalz had opposed.
The case is being heard by Judge John W. Darrah.