Gabby Petito’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Brian Laundrie’s estate in a move that could end with the Petito family’s obtaining the presumed killer’s “notebook and writings,” lawyers said Monday.
The legal maneuver comes after Petito’s parents filed a lawsuit March 10 accusing Laundrie’s parents, Christopher and Roberta Laundrie, of hindering the search for their murdered daughter.
In the new civil complaint, filed in Sarasota County, Florida, Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, acting as the administrator of her daughter’s estate, is targeting Laundrie’s estate for “damages which exceed $30,000.”
“The death of Gabrielle Venora Petito resulted from the intentional acts of Brian Laundrie,” according to the three-page complaint filed by the parents’ attorney, Patrick Reilly.
“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 probably future companionship, society and comfort.”
The action, targeting the estate, is not likely to result in any monetary damages, said Steven Bertolino, an attorney for Christopher and Roberta Laundrie.
“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,” Bertolino said in a statement Monday.
Petito’s parents are likely to have filed the latest lawsuit in hope of gaining possession of the notebook found with Brian Laundrie’s body, which has writings implicating him in her slaying, Bertolino said.
Lawyers for both sets of parents are “working on that issue” now, Bertolino said.
Reilly said he was confident his clients would secure that material, saying Monday: “We will eventually get Brian Laundrie’s notebook and writings.”
Barry Spivey, an attorney for Brian Laundrie’s estate, doubted the latest suit could yield a substantial financial outcome and questioned whether Laundrie had a penny to his name.
“I have no idea at this point whether his estate is worth anything at all,” Spivey said Monday.
Petito, 22, disappeared while she and Brian Laundrie were driving across America, with Petito, of Long Island, New York, documenting their travels on social media. Her body was found Sept. 19 in Wyoming, and the cause of her death was ruled a homicide as she died by “manual strangulation” at least three weeks earlier, a coroner said.
Brian Laundrie died by suicide weeks later, and the FBI has said he was Petito’s killer, based on writings in the notebook he left behind.