Gabby Petito's family files lawsuit against Brian Laundrie's parents, claims they knew Brian murdered Gabby
NORTH PORT, Fla. - Gabby Petito's family has filed a civil lawsuit against Brian Laundrie's parents, accusing them of knowing that Brian had murdered their daughter and attempting to help him flee the country. The lawsuit seeks over $100,000 in damages for causing the Petitos pain and suffering along with mental anguish.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Sarasota County by Gabby's mother, Nichole Schmidt, and father, Joseph Petito, listing Brian's parents Chris and Roberta Laundrie as defendants.
The complaint gives a brief timeline of Gabby Petito's disappearance and death, before revealing new accusations not previously released by the FBI.
"It is believed, and therefore averred that on or about August 28, 2021, Brian Laundrie advised his parents, Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie, that he had murdered Gabrielle Petito," the lawsuit states. "On that same date, Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie spoke with Attorney Steve Bertolino, and sent him a retainer on September 2, 2021."
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The lawsuit then mentions how the Laundrie family went on a vacation on September 6 and 7, "while Gabrielle Petito's family was suffering" as they were "extremely distraught" while attempting to find their daughter.
Gabby Petito is pictured in provided, undated images. (Photo credit: North Port Police Department)
The complaint goes on to state that Roberta Laundrie blocked Gabby's mother, Nichole Schmidt, on her cell phone and on Facebook around September 10, preventing any calls, texts or messages from being delivered.
Read the full complaint below (Mobile users: click here to view)
Four days later, the lawsuit claims the couple, "with full knowledge that Gabrielle Petito had been murdered by their son," issued a statement through their lawyer saying that they hoped a search party in Wyoming would help reunite the family with Gabby.
"While Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt were desperately searching for information concerning their daughter, Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie were keeping the whereabouts of Brian Laundrie secret, and it is believed were making arrangements for him to leave the country," the complaint reads.
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The lawsuit accuses the couple of repeatedly refusing to alleviate the Petito family's mental suffering an anguish by disclosing what they knew, saying that in doing so, the Laundries "acted with malice or great indifference to the rights of Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt."
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It further accuses the Laundries of exhibiting "extreme and outrageous conduct which constitutes behaviour, under the circumstances, which goes beyond all possible bounds of decency and is regarded as shocking, atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community."
The complaint claims Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt suffered pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of capacity for enjoyment of life as a result of the "willfulness and maliciousness" of the Laundrie's actions.
The lawsuit seeks over $100,000 in damages from the Laundries.
Their family attorney, Steven Bertolino, released the following statement to FOX 13:
"As I have maintained over the last several months, the Laundrie‘s have not publicly commented at my direction which is their right under the law. Assuming everything the Petitos allege in their lawsuit is true, which we deny, this lawsuit does not change the fact that the Laundries had no obligation to speak to Law Enforcement or any third-party including the Petito family. This fundamental legal principle renders the Petito’s claims to be baseless under the law."