Gabby Petito‘s parents are sounding hopeful they’re getting closer to some form of justice — and they have good reason to!
In case you didn’t hear, they had their first hearing in their lawsuit against Brian Laundrie‘s parents last week. The Petitos allege the Laundries knew full well that their son had murdered his YouTuber fiancée — and kept it from them, prolonging their suffering during their well-documented weeks-long search.
On Thursday Judge Hunter W Carroll made his first ruling in the case, denying the Laundries’ attempt to dismiss the lawsuit before it could even get to trial. He agreed with Chris and Roberta Laundrie‘s right to have said nothing — but they didn’t say nothing. It was their statement that made up his mind, as Steven Bertolino voiced during the nationwide search for Gabby:
“On behalf of the Laundrie family, it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family.”
Judge Carroll called the statement “particularly callous and cruel” in his ruling:
“As alleged by the Plaintiffs, the Laundries made their statement knowing that Gabby was dead, knowing the location of her body, and knowing that her parents were frantically looking for her. If this is true, then the Laundries’ statement was particularly callous and cruel, and it is sufficiently outrageous to state claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
He also agreed that just these words could — legally speaking — cause emotional distress:
“Florida law recognizes that family members are particularly susceptible to emotional distress around the time of a loved one’s death. Malicious conduct during that timeframe can rise to the level of outrage.”
And that statement, he deemed, was malicious conduct. If they knew. Now that’s what the Petitos get to try to prove.
In their official statement, Gabby’s grateful parents made it clear they’re looking forward to revealing all:
“Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt, the parents of Gabby Petito, are appreciative of the thorough and well-reasoned decision of Judge Hunter W Carroll which denied the motion of Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie to dismiss the complaint filed against them. This gives them an opportunity to proceed with their claim for the emotional distress caused by the conduct of the Laundries.”
“Joe and Nichole look forward to discovering the information the Laundries knew about Gabby’s death and her whereabouts, and in particular getting a copy of any correspondence, emails and texts exchanged during the difficult period when Gabby’s whereabouts were unknown. They look forward to going to trial and are confident that ultimately the Laundries will be held accountable.”
“Getting a copy of any correspondence.” That’s got to be a reference to the letter Roberta Laundrie allegedly wrote to Brian after the killing — which has been said to contain “extreme” evidence that she knew all about it. What emails and texts are they referring to? Do they already know what Brian and his parents sent one another thanks to the FBI investigation? Is it just about entering it into court evidence now?
We certainly look forward to seeing all of this finally come out, too!
The Laundries obviously weren’t pleased with the decision. Their attorney Matthew Luka said in a statement to Law&Crime:
“Chris and Roberta Laundrie, and myself, are disappointed with Judge Carroll’s decision to deny the motion and allow this lawsuit to proceed… Judge Carroll points out that the September 14, 2021 statement, standing alone, does not suggest outrage, but within the context of the other allegations in the case, the plaintiffs’ have met the threshold to go forward to the next phase. The Laundries will continue to use all available legal means to preserve their rights.”
Well, yes. The statement out of context isn’t outrageous. But it’s up to the Petitos during the trial to prove the context — to prove the Laundries were misleading in a “callous and cruel” way.
What do YOU think of their lawsuit??
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