NORTH PORT, Fla. (NewsNation) — Gabby Petito’s family filed a lawsuit against the parents of her fiance and only person of interest in her death – Brian Laundrie.
Petito was killed in August while driving across the country with Laundrie. He returned to his parents home in Florida, alone, before disappearing himself.
Laundrie’s remains were found in October, after more than a month of searching a 24,000-acre Florida nature reserve. In November, authorities confirmed Brian Laundrie died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The FBI said Laundrie claimed responsibility for Petito’s death in a journal found near his remains.
The lawsuit contains several allegations that were not previously known.
According to the documents, we now know the Petito family believes she died on Aug. 27th, though we will likely never know the date for certain.
The lawsuit also alleges that Laundrie told his parents what happened “on or about” Aug. 28, the day after Petito died and that his parents spoke with their attorney, Steve Bertolino that same day.
“It is believed, and therefore averred that … 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 Sept. 2, 2021.”
NewsNation reporter Brian Entin reached out to Bertolino for comment.
“As I have maintained over the last several months, the Laundries 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 Petitos’ claims to be baseless under the law,” Bertolino said.
In an interview on “Banfield,” criminal defense attorney Joe Tacopina said that even if everything in the complaint is true, it’s a “baseless claim on the law.”
“The fact of the matter is, it doesn’t give rise to a claim. They’re not alleging here that Laundrie’s parents knew about the plan to kill Petito, or cover it up. It’s just that they knew and they were heartless because they didn’t answer,” Tacopina said.
He says that the Laundries simply knowing about Petito’s death is not a good enough reason to sue them.
“They also have rights under the law. Their attorney just went public and said ‘I instructed them not to comment in the press,'” Tacopina added.
Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, and mother, Nichole Schmidt, are seeking damages of at least $100,000, according to the documents filed this week, stating that they suffered pain and mental anguish as a result of the “willfulness and maliciousness” of the Laundries.
You can read the full lawsuit below.