Ten years after the incident that caused a number of lawsuits against the village of North Riverside by former police officer Frank Schmalz, the legal battle has come to an end. Last month, the North Riverside village board unanimously approved a $540,000 settlement agreement with him.
The settlement dated Aug. 31 also grants Schmalz lifetime health benefits for Illinois first responders in accordance with the terms set by state laws. In 2018, Schmalz made the case that he was entitled to benefits under the Public Safety Employee Benefits Acts before the Circuit Court of Cook County.
Under the agreement, Schmalz must end all lawsuits against the village and its officials, as well as one complaint before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission upon receiving the settlement payment, due Sept. 30.
It also fully releases the village from all claims, including attorney’s fees and costs.
Schmalz first sued the village and village officials in 2013 for defamation after a verbal exchange with former North Riverside Mayor Kenneth Krochmal outside the Village Common polling place on election day in 2013. He also sued on grounds of retaliation after he was passed over for a promotion to lieutenant and removed from a drug-and-gang task force. In 2021, he filed a second retaliation case against the village of North Riverside.
In May, a federal judge ruled on the 2013 case, finding Krochmal liable for defamation. The jury then cleared former Police Chief Lane Niemann from the retaliation allegations brought up by the former police officer.
Both parties agreed to come to an agreement that would end both lawsuits back in August, according to documents filed before the U.S. District Court.