Civil suit against Laundrie family moving forward, judge rules
SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB/Gray News) – A civil suit against Brian Laundrie’s parents will go forward, a Sarasota County judge ruled Thursday.
According to WWSB, Circuit Court Judge Hunter Carroll denied the motion by Christopher and Roberta Laundrie to dismiss the civil suit brought by Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt, the parents of Gabby Petito.
The lawsuit alleges the Laundries knew their son had killed their daughter, said nothing and conspired to help him flee.
It asks for damages for pain and suffering, accusing the couple of acting “with great malice or great indifference to the rights of Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt.”
The suit also claims the Laundries refusal to divulge any information about their daughter’s death “exhibited extreme and outrageous conduct which constitutes behavior, 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 Laundries were in court to ask Carroll to dismiss the lawsuit, saying Gabby Petito’s parents had not proved their case.
The judge, however, disagreed and put part of the blame on the Laundries’ personal lawyer for releasing a statement on Sept. 14, 2021, that said, “It is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is re-united with her family. On the advice of counsel the Laundrie family is remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment.”
In his decision, Carroll suggests the Laundries are responsible for statements made by their attorney.
“Had the Laundries truly stayed silent, the court would have granted the motion to dismiss in the Laundries’ favor,” Judge Carroll wrote. “But they did not stay silent.”
Gabby Peitio and her fiance, Brian Laundrie, were on a cross-county journey last year, documenting the trip on social media, when she suddenly disappeared on Aug. 25, 2021. Brian Laundrie returned home, alone, with his fiancee’s vehicle.
In September 2021, Gabby Petito’s body was found in a remote area in a national park in Wyoming. The cause of death was ruled to be strangulation.
Brian Laundrie disappeared Sept. 17, 2021. His remains were eventually found in Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park near his home, and the cause of death was ruled as a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
A notebook near his body contained a confession letter, in which he claims it was a mercy killing after Gabby Petito suffered a head injury after falling.
The lawsuit seeks damages of at least $30,000. If the case is not dismissed, a jury trial has been set for the week of Aug. 14, 2023.
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