Gabby Petito: Judge denies Laundries’ motion to dismiss lawsuit

Ms Petito’s parents welcomed the decision and said they want to see all emails and texts exchanged ‘during the difficult period when Gabby’s whereabouts were unknown’

Gabby Petito's mother reveals her frustration in new interview

Brian Laundrie’s parents will have to answer to claims they had prior knowledge of Gabby Petito’s death after a judge denied their motion to dismiss a civil lawsuit brought by her parents.

Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt are suing Chris and Roberta Laundrie in Florida’s Sarasota County Circuit Court alleging they deliberately withheld information that their son had killed the vlogger before she was reported missing.

At the centre of the Petito’s case is a 16 September statement released by Laundrie attorney Steve Bertolino, as search parties combed the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming for Ms Petito.

“On behalf of the Laundrie family it is our hope that the search for Ms Petito is successful and that Ms Petito is reunited with her family,” the statement read.

Judge Hunter W Carroll denied a motion by the Laundries to dismiss the case in a ruling issued on Thursday morning, and first reported by NewsNation’s Brian Entin.

“Because the Laundries’ statement by their attorney in the context of the unique facts of this case is objectively outrageous, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs have stated causes of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress against the Laundries,” the judge said.

Gabby Petito in a screen grab from her YouTube v-log

He added that had the Laundries remained silent during the search for Ms Petito, he would have found in their favour.

“But they did not stay silent.”

Judge Carroll gave the Laundries until 15 July to respond to the substantive claims in the lawsuit.

Ms Petito’s parents issued a statement thanking the judge for the “thorough and well-reasoned” decision.

“Joe and Nichole look forward to discovering the information the Laundries knew about Gabby’s death and whereabouts, and in particular getting a copy of any correspondence, emails and texts exchanged during the difficult period when Gabby’s whereabouts were unknown.”

Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt in Sarasota County Circuit Court during last week’s hearing

Ms Petito’s parents appeared in court last week for the first hearing of the civil lawsuit in which they also allege the Laundries helped Brian evade capture and offering help to leave the country.

Their lawyer Pat Reilly told the court the Laundries had deliberately put out a false statement when they knew she was not alive.

“That’s callous, it’s shameful, it’s outrageous,” he said during the court hearing.

Mr Petito and Ms Schmidt are seeking damages for the “intentional infliction of emotional distress”.

The Laundries have denied having advanced any knowledge of Ms Petito’s death.

Gabby Petito died by manual strangulation, which Brian Laundrie confessed to

Ms Petito and Laundrie set off in their campervan on a cross-country trip in July 2021 and had been documenting their travels on YouTube.

On 1 September, Laundrie returned to his parents’ home alone.

Ms Petito’s parents reported her missing on 11 September after they couldn’t get in contact with her and Laundrie was refusing to say where she was.

Laundrie went on the run days later with his family telling police he was heading into the nature reserve close to their home.

On 19 September, Ms Petito’s remains were found in a Wyoming national park with her autopsy confirming that she had been strangled to death.

A month later on 20 October, Laundrie’s remains were found inside the Florida reserve, about five miles from his parent’s house.

Last week, a confession note written by Laundrie was released by Mr Bertolino.

In it he perversely claimed he thought her death was “merciful”.

“I thought it was merciful, that it is what she wanted, but I see now all the mistakes I made.

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