Fate of Gabby Petito family's lawsuit to be tested in FL court; Laundrie family to skip

A sign at a roadside memorial honors the death of Gabby Petito on September 24, 2021 in Blue Point, New York.
A makeshift memorial dedicated to Gabby Petito is located near the North Port City Hall on September 21, 2021 in North Port, Florida. Photo credit Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

VENICE, Fla. (1010 WINS) — The family of Brian Laundrie, the man who died by suicide after admitting to killing his fiancé, Long Island native Gabby Petito, on a cross-country road trip last year, will not be in the Florida courtroom on Wednesday. The judge will decide whether the Petito family's lawsuit against Chris and Roberta Laundrie will proceed.

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The Petito-Schmidt families and their attorney will appear before Judge Hunter W. Carroll in Sarasota County Circuit Court for the 1:30 p.m. hearing, while the Laundrie family attorney, Steven Bertolino, will attend virtually, Fox News Digital reports.

The March lawsuit, filed against the Laundries, alleges that they knew their son — who died of an apparent suicide amid a manhunt for his arrest —murdered 22-year-old Gabby and were attempting to help him flee the country. It also alleges the Laundrie family "acted with malice or great indifference to the rights of" Gabby’s parents.

The lawsuit, which reportedly seeks at least $100,000, alleges that the Petito family suffered mental anguish because of the Laundrie family's "willfulness and maliciousness."

Pat Reilly, the attorney representing the Petito-Schmidt families in the civil matter, told Fox News on Wednesday: "I have no comment at this point and don’t know if the judge will rule today."

Bertolino told WABC 7 that the Petito family lawsuit is unfounded.

"You have the right to remain silent," he said. "You have the right to allow your lawyer to speak for you. And you should not be liable to any third party, whether it's the family of the victim or whether it's a victim."

In May, Nicole Schmidt also filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida against Brian Laundrie's estate, seeking $30 million in damages for the murder of her daughter.

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