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Lawsuits & Litigation

Family of Murdered Traveler Influencer Gabby Petitio Sues Laundrie Estate

— May 11, 2022

One source speculated that the Petito family filed the lawsuit to gain access to the notebook found near Brian Laundrie’s decaying corpse.

Nichole Schmidt, mother of murdered social media personality Gabby Petito, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the estate of Petito’s former partner and suspected killer, Brian Laundrie.

The lawsuit recounts how Petito and Laundrie, engaged to be married, left New York in July 2021 on a cross-country trip. Petito, says CNN, had hoped to become a travel influencer by documenting the details of their journal on social media.

Petito maintained close and regular contact with her family up until August 27th, when she abruptly ceased communications.

Authorities located Petito’s remains in Teton County, Wyoming, one week after her family reported her missing. Investigators determined that the 22-year-old woman had died by strangulation.

Shortly after Petito’s disappearance, Laundrie returned—by himself—to his parents home in Florida.

After two weeks, Laundrie disappeared, too, prompting a high-profile manhunt.

While law enforcement failed to locate Laundrie, his parents purportedly discovered his decomposed remains in a Florida nature preserve.

A gavel. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user: Brian Turner. (CCA-BY-2.0).

Nearby, investigators found a notebook in which Laundrie allegedly confessed responsibility for his late fiancée’s murder.

The wrongful death lawsuit seeks damages for emotional deprivation and funeral costs.

“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 lawsuit says.

Schmidt is seeking a jury trial. While her lawsuit does not state a specific monetary amount, it requests “damages which exceed $30,000.”

Petito’s family had earlier filed a lawsuit against Laundrie’s parents, claiming they had knowledge of their son’s whereabouts and his role in the woman’s death.

An attorney for the Laundries said that Schmidt’s lawsuit was expected.

“The filing of the wrongful death lawsuit by the Petito family was fully expected. This lawsuit will most likely not be defended and the Petitos 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,” attorney Steven P. Bertolino told CNN.

NBC News suggests that Petito’s mother may have filed this lawsuit in hopes of gaining access to the notebook found with Laundrie’s body.

Bertolino told NBC News that both sets of parents are “working on that issue” now.

Barry Spivey, the lawyer for Brian Laundrie’s estate, says he does not expect that even a favorable outcome would lead to substantial damages.

“I have no idea at this point whether his estate is worth anything at all,” Spivey said on Monday.


Gabby Petito family’s lawsuit likely an effort to get Brian Laundrie’s notebook, lawyers say

Gabby Petito’s mother files wrongful death lawsuit against Brian Laundrie’s estate

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