Laundrie family lawyer now at center of Petito lawsuit

Gabby Petito Case

(NewsNation) — Steven Bertolino, the longtime attorney for Brian Laundrie and his parents, is now at the center of a lawsuit from Gabby Petito’s family.

The lawsuit charges that Laundrie’s parents and their attorney knew 22-year-old Petito had been murdered but said and did nothing, and that such was the case when they put out a statement saying they’d hoped she’d be found. 

In a 2021 November NewsNation interview, Bertolino confirmed Laundrie’s death by suicide after a monthslong search for his girlfriend, who was found strangled to death.

The FBI said Laundrie had admitted to murdering his girlfriend.

“So, what they’re claiming is they’ve been distressed by this incident and the actions of the defendant for essentially murdering their daughter,” Rex Blake, a criminal defense attorney in Clearwater, Florida, told NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” on Wednesday.

In a lawsuit response in Florida this week, the Laundries are now asking the court to remove their longtime attorney from the lawsuit, saying they don’t want him listed as a co-defendant — a move they argue could create conflict and invade attorney-client privilege. 

“They don’t want a situation where their longtime attorney is forced to testify against them. If Brian told him, ‘Hey look, this is the situation that occurred, here is the body,’ the attorney has to keep those secrets and if the attorney disclosed to authorities or anyone, the attorney would be subject to disbarment, which, for a criminal defense attorney, would be one the biggest grievances that you could do,” Blake said.

Blake went on to say that he doesn’t expect this lawsuit to really go anywhere and that he thinks it’s nothing more than continued back and forth between the Petito family and the Laundries.

A judge will decide the fate of the suit at the end of this month.

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