LOCAL NEWS

Family of Gabby Petito to file $50M wrongful death lawsuit against Moab PD

Aug 8, 2022, 10:59 AM | Updated: Jun 25, 2024, 10:00 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Gabby Petito’s parents announced with their attorneys that they intend to file a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against the Moab City Police Department for the death of their daughter.

Petito was found dead on Sept. 19 after being reported missing on Sept. 11 by her family. She and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, had taken a cross-country road trip together and were reported for a domestic violence incident on Aug. 11 in Moab.

Moab police encountered Petito and her boyfriend at the time, Brian Laundrie, in August 2021, after receiving two reports on the couple for domestic violence. Officers stopped the couple, talked to each of them individually and ultimately separated them for the night. Despite deliberation between responding officers, no charges were ever filed.

The 52-minute bodycam of Petito and Laundrie’s encounter with police was eventually released, and an investigation into the officers’ actions was opened.

Review of the police handling of Gabby Petito incident finds ‘unintentional mistakes’

The family, which includes Joseph and Tara Petito and Nichole and Jim Schmidt, will be represented by the law firm of Parker & McConkie who allege that the failures of the Moab City Police Department resulted in Gabby Petito’s death.

According to James McConkie, “While the full evidence has not yet been made public, when it is released, it will clearly show that if the officers had been properly trained and followed the law, Gabby would still be alive today.”

A press conference held on Aug. 8 condemned the police department’s actions and inactions stating that had the officers had the training to recognize the “obvious indicators of abuse, it would have been clear to them that Gabby was a victim of intimate partner violence and needed immediate protection.”

Jame McConkie claimed the Moab police department had issues with high turnover, lack of leadership and dangerous mismanagement for years, and provided past examples of the department’s mistakes.

Included as evidence against the Moab City Police Department was a public notice of “Help Wanted- Police Detective- Domestic Violence Specialist” and an incident in 2015 where two Moab police officers joined a teenage drinking party.

KSL TV reached out to the Moab City Police Department who told them, “The City does not comment on pending litigation.”

Gabby’s mother Nichole Schmidt said, “I think Gabby’s story has touched a lot of people and she’s saving lives. I get people messaging me all the time that they were inspired by her to get out of a relationship.”

Gabby’s family has established the Gabby Petito Foundation to promote a greater understanding of the dangers associated with domestic violence.

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Family of Gabby Petito to file $50M wrongful death lawsuit against Moab PD