The parents of Brian Laundrie are seeking to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the family of his late fiancée, Gabby Petito, calling it “baseless” and “frivolous.” Laundrie was found dead in a Florida nature reserve last fall, several weeks after Petito’s body was discovered in a Wyoming national park, where the couple had been vacationing.
“A motion to dismiss the baseless and frivolous lawsuit commenced by Gabby Petito’s parents was filed in court,” Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino said in a statement to CBS News on Wednesday. “The Laundries have exercised their constitutional right to refrain from speaking and have relied on counsel to speak for them. This is not only common practice in our civilized society but it embodies the exercise of fundamental rights under the United States and Florida Constitutions. The Laundries’ rights are inalienable and the Laundries can never be liable for exercising their legal rights in a permissible way.”
Petito’s family filed the lawsuit earlier this month, alleging that Laundrie told his parents, Christopher and Roberta Laundrie, he had killed Petito before he returned home alone from their ill-fated western trip and that the couple concealed their son’s alleged confession from the Petito family and authorities.
“In doing so, Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie acted with malice or great indifference to the rights of [Petito’s parents] Joseph Petito and Nicole Schmidt,” the lawsuit claims, adding that their alleged conduct was “shocking, atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the Laundries were “making arrangements for [Laundrie] to leave the country.” No evidence was included to back up this claim.
The Petitos’ lawsuit seeks damages of at least $30,000. Bertolino said in a text message at the time the lawsuit was filed that his clients were fully within their rights not to talk. He also denied the lawsuit’s claims in general.
The lawsuit says that until that trip and her disappearance, the two families “had a cordial relationship.”
Authorities located Petito’s body on September 19, 2021, eight days after her family had reported her missing, in a camping area within Grand Teton National Park. Authorities said the 22-year-old died by strangulation and her death was ruled a homicide. The FBI later disclosed that Petito had died of “blunt-force injuries to the head and neck, with manual strangulation.”
A manhunt for 23-year-old Laundrie ensued, with authorities identifying him as a person of interest in the case. A court in Wyoming issued an arrest warrant for him in late September, accusing him of using a debit card to make unauthorized withdrawals of more than $1,000 between August 30 and September 1. His body was found weeks later in Florida’s Carlton Reserve. Authorities determined Laundrie died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
In its final report on the investigation into Petito’s death, the FBI wrote that Laundrie claimed responsibility for his fiancée’s death in a notebook found near his remains.
The FBI also confirmed that Laundrie had been “attempting to deceive law enforcement by giving the impression that Ms. Petito was still alive” by continuing a text chain between their two phones after she is believed to have died. Laundrie also used Petito’s debit card while driving alone from Wyoming to his parents home in Florida in early September, the FBI said.