Florida judge is expected to make a decision in coming weeks on a lawsuit by Gabby Petito’s parents
Jun 22, 2022, 7:13 PM | Updated: Jun 25, 2022, 8:52 pm
(CNN) — A Florida judge said he plans to issue an order within the next two weeks regarding a lawsuit filed by Gabby Petito’s parents against the parents of Brian Laundrie.
In a complaint filed in March, Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt alleged Christopher and Roberta Laundrie knew their son killed Petito and that they “acted with malice or great indifference” by not disclosing where her remains were.
In their court filings, Petito’s parents also said Laundrie’s parents “exhibited extreme and outrageous conduct” and requested “just compensation for the damages they have suffered, together with costs, and such other relief.”
Laundrie’s parents have filed a motion to dismiss the civil lawsuit.
Petito, whose disappearance last summer gripped the nation, was found dead in Wyoming after embarking on a cross-country trip with Laundrie, who was her fiance. A coroner ruled she died by strangulation. After returning to their Florida home alone and then leaving again, Laundrie was found dead weeks later. A medical examiner ruled he died by suicide.
Circuit Court Judge Hunter Carroll’s announcement Wednesday came after he heard arguments from attorneys for both sides.
An attorney for the Laundries argued Wednesday that “everybody has the right to their private enclave.”
“They don’t have to come and affirmatively state everything they know about everything,” attorney Matthew Luka said in court. “That’s just not the way our society works. It’s not how the constitution works. People are protected until they’re not.”
In response, the Petito family attorney said that the lawsuit doesn’t aim to force the defendants to say anything.
“That’s not what we’re doing,” the Petito family attorney said. “We’re seeking damages for their conduct.”
Petito’s parents sat next to their attorney during the hearing and at times, Petito’s mother was seen crying.
Separately, Schmidt has filed a lawsuit asking for monetary compensation for the “wrongful death” of her daughter and requesting a trial by jury.
“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,” that suit said.
“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 alleges.
The lawsuit also alleges that while the search was still underway Roberta Laundrie blocked Nichole Schmidt’s calls and texts and also blocked her on social media.
No trial date has been set in the case.
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KSL-TV Ladd Egan contributed to this article.