Laundrie family’s attorney argues against Petitio family’s lawsuit in court

Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Petito and Laundrie families lawsuit hearing (Credit: WINK News)

Claims that the Laundrie family knew that their son Brian killed Gabby Petito took center stage in court on Wednesday.

The Petito family filed a lawsuit against the Laundries in March claiming they knew Gabby was dead and had hired a lawyer for Brian. The lawsuit says it resulted in “Intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

Brian and Gabby went on a road trip out west last summer. Brian returned home without her and she was later found murdered in Wyoming.

Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie
Credit: Gabby Petito via Instagram

Brian went missing after he returned to his family’s North Port home, but before Gabby’s body was found. He was later found dead in Myakkahatchee Park from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The Petito family was in the Venice courtroom on Wednesday, but the Laundries were not.

The Laundries want the Petito family lawsuit thrown out.

Gabby’s parents argue that Brian’s parents knew where Gabby was dead and they intentionally hid that fact, causing them undue anxiety. The Laundrie family attorney argues that they have the right to remain silent.

There were a lot of tears and holding onto each other as the Petito and Schmidt families entered the courtroom.

Throughout the 70-minute proceeding, Gabby’s mother fidgeted with her necklace. Inside it is Gabby’s ashes, a constant reminder of what she lost.

The Laundries on the other hand were noticeably absent. Their attorney, Matt Lukka, argued silence is their right, but the judge pushed back.

“This is where I’m having some difficulty. I fully understand constitutional right to remain silent, that being said we’re on a motion to dismiss on a complaint where I have to assume the facts are true,” said Judge Hunter Carroll.

The Petito-Schmidt attorney, Pat Reilley, said there has to be a crime in order for the Laundrie’s to invoke their fifth amendment rights.

“I’m waiting for the day for the Laundries to tell us what crimes they committed so hopefully they’ll do that. I don’t know what crimes they’re asserting they did. We did allege that they were trying to move some money around to get Brian out of the country but there was no arrest warrant out for Brian. He wasn’t a fugitive,” said Reilly.

Gabby’s parents argue the Laundries knew that Brian killed Gabby and that they knew where she was buried and they chose to say nothing.

They also say the Laundries issued a statement through their attorney saying they hoped she would be found and reunited with her family, giving them false hope.

“Laundries knew of the fragile state they were in. They knew she was not alive. They knew they were out searching,” said Reilly during the hearing.

The Laundrie family lawyer said in his own news conference that there is no basis in the law for this lawsuit and believes the judge has no choice but to dismiss it.

“We do believe there’s no basis in the law for this cause of action so we don’t feel like it should go any further than this point,” said Lukka.

Judge Carroll said he will take a couple of weeks to go over the case before he issues a ruling.

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