Gabby Petito’s parents want to hold Chris and Roberta Laundrie liable for their daughter’s death in civil court
Ms Petito’s parents Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt are suing the Laundries in Floride’s Sarasota County Circuit Court alleging that Chris and Roberta Laundrie deliberately withheld that their son had killed the vlogger before she was reported missing.
At a hearing on Wednesday, the Petitos’ attorney Pat Reilly said the Laundries were liable over her death for not reporting to law enforcement what they knew.
“It’s about what they did with the information they had. They could have made an anonymous phone call and said where the body was located.
“They knew starting on August 28th that Gabby was dead, they knew where her body was,” Mr Reilly said.
Mr Reilly cited a statement made through Laundrie attorney Steve Bertolino on 16 September as search parties combed the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming for Ms Petito.
“On behalf of the Laundrie family it is our hope that the search for Ms Petito is successful and that Ms Petito is reunited with her family,” the statement read.
Her remains were found in a shallow grave near the park on 19 septembre.
Mr Reilly claimed the Laundries had deliberately put out a false statement when they knew she was not alive.
“That’s callous, it’s shameful, it’s outrageous," il a dit.
Mr Reilly said the only reason Mr Bertolino was not a defendant in the civil case was because he’s not a resident of Florida.
Matt Luka, the Laundries’ attorney, earlier argued that the parents had no duty or obligation to speak to law enforcement, and were merely exercising their constitutional rights.
He said the Laundries’ conduct would have to rise to the level of “atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized society” for them to be liable.
Joe Petito and Nichole Schmidt also accuse the Laundries of planning to help Brian leave the country, and are seeking damages for the “intentional infliction of emotional distress”.
Ms Schmidt, sitting beside Mr Petito and their lawyer, rubbed a heart shaped locket around her neck throughout the hearing.
The Laundries did not appear in court for the hearing.