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Petito Parents Receive $3m Award in Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Brian Laundrie’s Estate

— November 18, 2022

The Petito family is still pursuing an active lawsuit against Laundrie’s parents, who they claim of aiding and sheltering their son when he was being sought by law enforcement.

A Florida judge has awarded Gabby Petito’s parents $3 million in damages, likely resolving their lawsuit against the estate of the late Brian Laundrie.

According to NBC News, the settlement was announced on Thursday, several months after Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt filed their civil complaint in a Sarasota County, Florida, court.

In their lawsuit, the Petito family alleged that the Laundries intentionally hindered their search for Gabby Petito, who went missing while traveling across the United States with her then-boyfriend, Brian Laundrie.

Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt had explicitly claimed that Laundrie’s parents—Christopher and Roberta Laundrie—knew that Petito “had been murdered by their son.”

The Petito family claimed that Brian Laundrie’s callous actions caused them to “[incur] funeral and burial expenses,” adding that “they have suffered a loss of care and comfort, and suffered a loss of probable future companionship, society and comfort.”

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

Shortly after Petito’s disappearance, Laundrie himself vanished, sparking a nationwide manhunt.

Laundrie’s body was eventually discovered in a Florida wilderness preserve.

Law enforcement later reported that they found a suicide note near Laundrie’s corpse, in which he admitted to murdering his girlfriend.

“The Petito family lost their daughter, and they were also denied the opportunity to confront her killer. No amount of money is sufficient to compensate the Petito family for the loss of their daughter, Gabby, at the hands of Brian Laundrie,” said attorney Patrick Reilly, who represented the Petito family in their claim against Laundrie’s estate.

While stating that the family is pleased with the agreerment, Reilly observed that Laundrie’s estate was not worth $3 million and the settlement amount was “an arbitrary number.”

What money the family does recover will be donated to the Gabby Petito Foundation, an organization established shortly after the woman’s death in August of 2021.

Steve Bertolino, an attorney for the Laundries, said that he had actively worked with Reilly “to avoid the expense of a trial when the outcome of a money judgment was unavoidable.”

“Hopefully, this brings some closure to this one chapter of this tragedy,” Bertolino said in a statement announcing the settlement.

ABC News notes that, while the Petito family has reached a settlement in its claim against Laundrie’s estate, they are still pursuing a lawsuit that names Laundrie’s parents as defendants.

In that complaint, Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt maintain that the Laundries knew that their son had murdered Petito and helped him evade law enforcement in the weeks preceding his death.


Gabby Petito’s family awarded $3M in wrongful death lawsuit against Brian Laundrie’s estate

Gabby Petito’s family awarded $3M in wrongful death lawsuit against Brian Laundrie’s parents

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