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Judge Awards Gabby Petito’s Family $3M In Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Brian Laundrie’s Estate

North Port, FL – Gabby Petito’s family has been awarded $3 million in the wrongful death lawsuit they field against the estate of her deceased killer, Brian Laundrie.

The judgement was rendered by Sarasota County Circuit Judge Hunter Carroll on Thursday, ABC News reported.

Gabby Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, and her father, Joseph Petito, filed the lawsuit in May, claiming that 23-year-old Brian Laundrie intentionally killed their 22-year-old daughter during a cross-country trip last year.

The lawsuit alleged the Petito family “incurred funeral and burial expenses, and they have suffered a loss of care and comfort, and suffered a loss of probable future companionship, society and comfort” as a direct result of Laundrie’s actions, ABC News reported.

They sought at least $30,000 in damages.

Although Carroll awarded the Petito family $3 million, Brian Laundrie’s estate is estimated at just $20,000, Insider reported.

The Petito family’s attorney, Patrick Reilly, said that the $3 million award is “an arbitrary number,” but that any payments they do receive “will help Gabby’s family in their endeavors with the Gabby Petito Foundation,” according to FOX News.

“The Gabby Petito Foundation will continue to address the needs of organizations that support locating missing persons and to provide aid to organizations that assist victims of domestic violence situations, through education, awareness, and prevention strategies,” Reilly said.

“Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt wish to turn their personal tragedy into a positive,” he added. “It is their hope that Gabby’s foundation will bring these important issues into the forefront of the public eye to the benefit of all our communities.”

Reilly noted that Petito’s family was denied the opportunity to confront her killer, FOX News reported.

“No amount of money is sufficient to compensate the Petito family for the loss of their daughter, Gabby, at the hands of Brian Laundrie,” he said.

The case is completely separate from the wrongful death lawsuit Gabby Petito’s family filed against Brian Laundrie’s parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie, on March 10.

The family is seeking at least $100,000 in damages, WFLA reported.

The lawsuit alleged that the Laundries stonewalled police and withheld information that could have assisted in the search for Gabby Petito, according to KSTU.

The Petito family further claimed the Laundries assisted their son, 23-year-old Brian Laundrie, in avoiding police, thereby inflicting emotional distress on her family.

A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled to take place in May of 2023, with a jury trial slated to begin on Aug. 14, 2023, KSTU reported.

Gabby Petito’s family has also filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against the Moab Police Department (MPD) and two officers who interacted with her and Brian Laundrie approximately two weeks before her murder.

Gabby Petito, 22, and Brian Laundrie, 23 were on a cross-country trip touring U.S. national parks in Gabby Petito’s converted camper van during the summer of 2021 when she disappeared In Wyoming.

Schmidt said she last spoke with her daughter on Aug. 25, 2021.

Brian Laundrie returned to his family’s Florida home in Gabby Petito’s van on Sept. 1, 2021, but she was not with him.

He refused to speak with police or the Petito family about where he last saw her before he supposedly vanished while hiking in a Florida nature reserve on Sept. 14, 2021.

Brian Laundrie’s parents claimed that was the last time they spoke with him.

Gabby Petito’s body was discovered in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming on Sept. 19, 2021.

Brian Laundrie’s partial remains were found on Oct. 20, 2021 in Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in Sarasota County.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced in a press release on Jan. 21 that the District 12 Medical Examiner’s Office in Sarasota had concluded Brian Laundrie died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The FBI further revealed that Brian Laundrie had taken responsibility for 22-year-old Gabby Petito’s death in a handwritten statement found in a notebook located in a waterproof bag near his body.

According to the lawsuit, Gabby Petito was murdered by Brian Laundrie on Aug. 27, 2021, WFLA reported.

The coroner determined she died by manual strangulation, but the lawsuit further alleged Gabby Petito also suffered blunt force injuries to her neck and head.

Gabby Petito’s parents claimed in the lawsuit that Brian Laundrie told his parents about murdering his fiancé on Aug. 28, 2021 – one day after her murder.

“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 read, according to WFLA. “On that same date, Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie spoke with Attorney Steve Bertolino, and sent him a retainer on Sept. 2, 2021.”

The lawsuit further alleged Brian Laundrie used Gabby Petito’s phone to send messages back and forth with his phone after her murder “in an effort to hide the fact that she was deceased,” according to the lawsuit.

Gabby Petito’s family said Brian Laundrie and his parents refused to speak with them or police after he returned to Florida without her, WFLA reported.

Schmidt said Roberta Laundrie blocked her on Facebook and blocked her phone number at approximately the same time the family reported Gabby Petito’s disappearance.

“While Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt were desperately searching for information concerning their daughter, Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie were keeping the whereabouts of Brian Laundrie secret, and it is believed were making arrangements for him to leave the country,” the lawsuit alleged, according to WFLA.

Gabby Petito’s parents accused the Laundries of acting “with malice or great indifference to the rights of” the Petito family, to include taking Brian Laundrie on a family camping trip while the search for Gabby Petito was ongoing, the lawsuit contended.

“Christopher and Roberta Laundrie exhibited extreme and outrageous conduct which constitutes behavior, under the circumstances, which goes beyond all possible bounds of decency and is regarded as shocking, atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community,” the lawsuit read.

Rick Stafford, an attorney representing Schmidt and Joseph Petito, told WFLA in a statement in March that Brian Laundrie and his parents had “multiple conversations” with Bertolino prior to Brian Laundrie leaving Wyoming on Aug 30, 2021.

“Christopher and Roberta had multiple opportunities to disclose to Joe, Nichole or the authorities that Gabby was no longer alive and to direct them to her body,” Stafford said. “Instead, Christopher and Roberta Laundrie showed callous indifference to the suffering of Gabby’s family and compounded her family’s anguish, pain and suffering by their actions.”

“For this, Christopher and Roberta must be held accountable,” he told WFLA at the time.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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