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First hearing held in Venice regarding Petito lawsuit against the parents of Brian Laundrie

WWSB Tampa logo WWSB Tampa 4 days ago Rick Adams
First hearing in Petito lawsuit against Laundrie family. © Provided by WWSB Tampa First hearing in Petito lawsuit against Laundrie family.

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Petito family walking into Sarasota County Circuit Court in Venice Wednesday afternoon. The Laundrie family nowhere to be seen. Gabby Petito’s parents Joseph Petito and Nicole Schmidt filing a lawsuit against Brian Laundrie’s parents Chris and Roberta Laundrie. They say the Laundrie’s caused them additional emotional distress. They are seeking at least $30,000 in damages.

“That says a lot, they knew she was deceased,” said Patrick Reilly, attorney for the Petito family. “They knew where her body was located and they had the audacity to express a hope that she would be reunited with her family.”

The attorneys for the Laundrie’s want to have this lawsuit thrown out saying it’s baseless.

“Their First Amendment right which allows them to speak freely or to not speak at all,” said Matthew Luka, attorney for the Laundrie family. “Their Fifth Amendment privilege which allows them to not speak in any situation that can potentially incriminate them.”

The remains of the 22-year-old Petito were found in a camping area in Wyoming last year. Her fiance Brian Laundrie was the only person of interest in her death. His body was found in Carlton Reserve in North Port after he went missing. He had taken his own life. One Manatee County woman who attended the hearing had this to say.

“They never got justice for their daughter,” said Andra Griffin, a Bradenton resident. “The more you peel back the layer of onion related to what transpired in the Laundrie side of the situation, it’s unfair and it’s so disrespectful, so disheartening.”

The attorney for the Petito’s saying this continues to be very emotional and a difficult time for them. Gabby’s mom wearing a necklace holding her ashes.

“They’re handling this the best they can,” said Reilly. “There were some tears earlier today when we came in here and I suspect there likely will be some more tears.”

The judge will have a final decision on this lawsuit through a written order within two weeks.

“I thought it went as expected, we definitely appreciate the judge’s time and his consideration of this case,” said Luka. “I know it’s important to both families.”

If the final decision does favor the Petito’s, it would then go to a jury trial next year.

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