VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) — The parents of Gabby Petito have filed an amended lawsuit, claiming that Brian Laundrie’s parents went on vacation with their son while knowing he had murdered 22-year-old Petito and refusing to disclose the location of her remains.
Joe Petito and Nichole Schmidt originally filed a lawsuit against Chris and Roberta Laundrie in March. Judge Hunter W. Carroll noted a “perceived procedural deficiency” in that suit, so attorneys for Schmidt and Petito made revisions, as expected.
The lawsuit continues to claim Laundrie’s parents knew all along their son murdered Petito and sought to help him flee the country. Steven Bertolino, the long-time lawyer for the Laundries in New York, has called the allegations “baseless.”
While the updated lawsuit does contain some noteworthy changes, it unsurprisingly remains absent of evidence to back up the allegations made against the Laundries.
“They’ll have to wait and see,” said Petito and Schmidt attorney Pat Reilly to WFLA.com last month when asked about the evidence. “If we didn’t believe it was true, we wouldn’t have put them in the complaint.”
Here are the six notable changes made in the amended lawsuit filed in Sarasota County Circuit Court:
1. Laundries’ September trip to Fort DeSoto park
The lawsuit has been changed in regards to the Laundrie family’s camping trip taken in early September at the Fort DeSoto campground after Brian returned home without Gabby. It now claims the family went on vacation not only aware Brian had murdered Gabby, but also with the knowledge of where Petito’s body was located as a multi-state search effort was being conducted for her whereabouts.
“While Gabrielle Petito’s family was suffering, the Laundrie family went on vacation to Fort DeSoto Park on September 6-7, 2021. They went on vacation knowing that Laundrie had murdered Gabrielle Petito, it is believed that they knew where her body was located, and further knew that Gabrielle Petito’s parents were attempting to locate her,” the suit says.
2. ‘Beyond outrageous’ statement from Laundries
In an added section to the lawsuit, Petito and Schmidt say a statement claiming the Laundries were hopeful the search for Gabby would be successful was “beyond outrageous.”
The statement in question comes from Sept. 14, which is before Gabby’s remains were found in Wyoming.
“It is our understanding that a search has been organized for Miss Petito in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. 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.”Laundrie family statement, Sept. 14, 2021
The revised lawsuit singles out this comment and the word “hope”:
“For the Laundries to express their “hope” that Gabrielle Petito was located and reunited with her family, at a time when they knew she had been murdered by their son was beyond outrageous,” the suit says.
3. Laundries’ contact with law enforcement
In section 28 of the lawsuit, “law enforcement” has been removed from the mentioned parties that Chris and Roberta Laundrie allegedly refused to communicate with.
“Despite the fact that Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt implored Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie to tell them if their daughter was alive, and if she was not, where her remains were located, Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie refused to respond to either Joseph Petito or Nichole Schmidt
or law enforcement,” the updated suit reads.
4. ‘Mental suffering and anguish’ of Gabby’s parents
Section 31 of the lawsuit has been re-worked to specify claims that the Laundries were aware of the pain and suffering Petito and Schmidt were experiencing through Gabby’s disappearance.
“Christopher Laundrie and [Roberta] Laundrie knew of the mental suffering and anguish of Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt in not knowing the well-being or location of their daughter, and further knew that such mental suffering and anguish increased each day that Gabrielle Petito was missing,” the suit now reads. “Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie further knew that they could prevent such additional mental suffering and anguish of Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt by disclosing what they knew about the well-being and location of the remains of Gabrielle Petito, yet they repeatedly refused to do so. In doing so, Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie acted with malice or great indifference to the rights of Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt.”
5. ‘Extreme and outrageous conduct’ by Laundries
Section 32 of the lawsuit has been amended as a summation of the lawsuit with five specific allegations that the attorneys for Petito and Schmidt argue is “extreme and outrageous conduct” that goes “beyond all possible bounds of decency” due to claims of actions that are “shocking, atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.”
The five allegations listed in the lawsuit now are:
a. Allegation of failing to inform Gabby’s parents she was deceased
b. Allegation of failing to inform Gabby’s parents of the location of her body
c. Taking a family vacation while allegedly knowing Gabby’s parents were desperately seeking her whereabouts
d. Allegation of blocking access to their phones and Facebook page
e. Issuing a statement of “hope” while allegedly knowing Gabby was deceased
6. Separation of counts against Chris and Roberta Laundrie
The lawsuit’s most procedural amendment is separating the counts issued by and against all parties as follows:
Count 1: Joseph Petito v. Christopher Laundrie
Count 2: Joseph Petito v. Roberta Laundrie
Count 3: Nichole Schmidt v. Christopher Laundrie
Count 4: Nichole Schmidt v. Roberta Laundrie
The Laundries, through their attorneys, have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. They are expected to file a second motion for dismissal.
The revised lawsuit maintains several bombshell allegations against the Laundries including new information about Petito’s exact cause of death.
If the lawsuit survives attempts to dismiss, a jury trial has been set for the week of Aug. 14, 2023, at the South County Courthouse in Sarasota County, Florida. The trial would be open to the public, with international media attention likely. It would mark the first time the Petito case reaches a courtroom and, while it would be a civil case instead of a criminal one, it would reveal the strength of the highly-anticipated evidence Petito and Schmidt claim to have to support their accusations.