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Gabby Petito's Parents Want To Add Attorney Representing Brian Laundrie's Parents To Emotional Distress Lawsuit
An attorney representing Gabby Petito's parents has alleged that Chris and Roberta Laundrie, as well as family attorney Steven Bertolino, knew Gabby had been killed when they issued a statement saying it was their "hope" she'd be reunited with her family.
Gabby Petito’s parents want to include the attorney representing Brian Laundrie’s parents to their ongoing emotional distress lawsuit.
Nichole Schmidt and Joseph Petito filed the lawsuit against Christopher and Roberta Laundrie earlier this year, alleging that Brian Laundrie's parents knew their son killed Gabby but did nothing, instead issuing a public statement voicing their “hope” that she would be reunited with her worried parents.
Now, the family’s attorneys want to add the Laundrie’s family attorney, Steven Bertolino, to the lawsuit.
“It is believed that at the time the September 14, 2021 statement was issued, the Laundries and Steven Bertolino knew that Gabby Petito was deceased and that under those circumstances, the statement was insensitive, cold-hearted, and outrageous,” Pat Reilly, the attorney for Petito and Schmidt, told Oxygen.com in a statement Wednesday. “Thus, after much consideration, the parents of Gabby Petito filed a Motion for Leave of Court this afternoon asking the court for permission to file a Second Amended Complaint to add Steven Bertolino as a defendant in the action.”
Reilly went on to say that Gabby’s parents are “seeking justice and accountability for the loss of their daughter and the attendant harm caused them.”
Gabby’s parents contend in the lawsuit, previously obtained by Oxygen.com, that Brian killed Gabby on Aug. 27 while the couple was on a cross-country trek to visit the nation’s national parks.
They believe Brian told his parents about his fiancé’s death the next day and his family reached out to Bertolino, later sending him a retainer to secure his services on Sept. 2. Meanwhile, after leaving Petito’s body in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, Brian returned home to Florida on Sept. 1.
As Gabby’s family tried to find her, the Laundries remained silent other than to issue a public statement on Sep. 14, through Bertolino, commenting on the case.
“It is our understanding that a search has been organized for Miss Petito in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming,” read the statement previously obtained by Oxygen.com. “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.”
Gabby’s family has taken issue with the statement, alleging that, at the time, Christopher and Roberta Laundrie already knew their daughter was dead.
“For the Laundries and Steven Bertolino to express their ‘hope’ that Gabrielle Petito was located and reunited with their family, at a time when they knew she had been murdered by Brian Laundrie was beyond outrageous,” the Petito family attorneys wrote in court documents obtained by Law & Crime.
Reilly argued in a motion for leave to file the amended complaint, obtained by Oxygen.com, that adding Bertolino as a defendant in the case “will not delay trial of this matter and will not raise any claims beyond any applicable statue of limitations.”
Oxygen.com reached out to Bertolino to comment on the latest developments in the case, but did not receive an immediate response.
Before the body was discovered, Brian Laundrie disappeared himself, launching a month-long search to find the 23-year-old. His remains were found in October 2021 in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in Florida. Authorities would later determine he shot himself in the head.
Near the remains, investigators discovered a notebook where Brian allegedly claimed responsibility for Gabby’s death.