A lawsuit filed in 2013 by a North Riverside police sergeant claiming he was retaliated against by village officials for supporting a rival candidate for mayor remains alive after a federal judge denied the village’s motion to force the office to accept the terms of a settlement.
Judge John W. Darrah on Oct. 28 agreed with an earlier ruling by a magistrate judge assigned to oversee settlement talks between Sgt. Frank Schmalz and the village. On July 5, Magistrate Judge Mary Rowland ruled that Schmalz had not personally consented to settle the case for a lump sum amount of $60,000, although his attorney had told the judge and the village’s attorney that he had accepted it.
But Schmalz never signed a proposed settlement agreement, and Rowland ruled that his attorney did not have the authority to accept the settlement on his behalf.
With Darrah’s ruling, Schmalz’s case will continue toward trial. Both sides are due back in front of Darrah for a status hearing on Jan. 19, 2017.
Schmalz has argued that he was passed over for promotion and removed from a gang and drug task force following the election of Hubert Hermanek Jr. as mayor of North Riverside in the spring of 2013.
Schmalz was a visible and vocal supporter of the candidacy of Rocco DeSantis for mayor. The village actions following the election, Schmalz said, violated his First Amendment rights.
In addition, Schmalz claimed he was defamed by public statements made by former Mayor Kenneth Krochmal.
In November 2013, Schmalz filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against past and present members of the North Riverside Village Board and Police Chief Lane Niemann alleging retaliation for his political activities.
Most of the defendants were removed from the suit, but Hermanek, Niemann and Krochmal remain as defendants.