The mother of Gabby Petito has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Brian Laundrie’s estate.
In a double tragedy that never saw Laundrie tried or convicted for murdering Petito, his actions after her disappearance and his eventual suicide left little doubt in the eyes of the public or the minds of her family that he was responsible for her death.
The wrongful death lawsuit argues that Brian Laundrie killed Gabby Petito, which caused her parents to incur “funeral and burial expenses, and they have suffered a loss of care and comfort, and have suffered a loss of probable future companionship, society, and comfort.”
Nichole Schmidt, Petito’s mother, filed the suit seeking damages of at least $30,000.
The suit, which was filed in Sarasota, Fl, on Friday, May 7, alleges that the young girl’s death has caused significant anguish for Schmidt and Gabby’s father, Joseph Petito.
“As a direct and proximate consequence of Brian Laundrie’s tortious conduct, Nichole Schmidt and Joseph Petito incurred funeral and burial expenses, and they have suffered a loss of care and comfort, and have suffered a loss of probable future companionship, society, and comfort,” the suit says.
Schmidt asked for a trial by jury and is seeking “damages which exceed $30,000.”
In a statement to the press, Laundrie’s family attorney Steven P. Bertolino said the wrongful death lawsuit was “fully expected.”
“This lawsuit will most likely not be defended, and the Petito’s will have gained nothing more than a piece of paper that tells them what everyone already knows—which is that Brian was responsible for Gabby’s death as indicated by the FBI,” he said.
Petito and Laundrie had struck out on the cross-country journey in July. Petito, 22, had planned to become a van life blogger, documenting their trip on social media as they traveled in a converted camper van.
But less than two months later, the 22-year-old disappeared. Her last communication with her family was on August 27.
Her remains were discovered the next month in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. The coroner later determined that she had been strangled to death.
Laundrie returned to Florida without his fiancé on September 1 and went on vacation with his family before disappearing himself about two weeks later. His body was discovered in October in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in Florida. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
The FBI has said a notebook, where Laundrie admitted responsibility for Petito’s slaying, was found near his remains.
Her family has also filed a separate lawsuit against Laundrie’s parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie.
In the complaint associated with that suit, Schmidt and Joseph Petito argued that Laundrie’s parents knew he killed their daughter and stayed silent for weeks, opting instead to take a family camping trip at Fort DeSoto Park rather than report what they knew to Petito’s family or law enforcement.
It also alleges that after the Laundries knew their daughter was dead, the family released a public statement on September 14, saying “it is our hope” that the search for Petito would be “successful” and she would be “reunited with her family.”
“For the Laundries to express their ‘hope’ that Gabrielle Petito was located and reunited with her family, at a time when they knew she had been murdered by their son is beyond outrageous,” the lawsuit states.
Petito’s parents have argued that the lack of cooperation from Laundrie’s parents during the search to find their daughter “goes beyond all possible bounds of decency and is regarded as shocking, atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.”
However, in a statement to the press released soon after the initial lawsuit was filed against Chris and Roberta Laundrie, their attorney, Bertolino, said there are “no facts” to back up the allegation that the Laundries knew Petito had been murdered and that they had simply been executing their constitutional right to remain silent. He then filed a motion to “dismiss the baseless and frivolous lawsuit,” to which an amended complaint was the response.
If either suit goes to trial remains to be seen.