Gabby Petito case: Laundrie family attorney files motion to dismiss lawsuit from victim's parents

Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino filed a motion to dismiss a civil lawsuit from the parents and stepparents of slain travel blogger Gabby Petito Wednesday.

Bertolino filed his 20-page motion on Wednesday asking a Florida judge to drop the lawsuit with prejudice, arguing that there are no facts to support their claims of "intentional infliction of emotional distress." He further asked that the judge prevent the Petito-Schmidt families from filing an amended lawsuit should his dismissal request be granted. 

Clients Chris and Roberta Laundrie were exercising their constitutional right to remain silent, Bertolino wrote. 

"The gravamen of the claimed wrongdoing is that the Laundries exercised their constitutional rights and essentially made no statements to Plaintiffs or law enforcement," the motion states. "While the [Petito-Schmidt families] allege some facts, those facts could never establish a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress because the Laundries’ ‘actions’ were legally permissible, constitutionally protected, not outrageous, and do not give rise to any cause of action."

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He added that the families' "failure to state a cause of action in the Complaint provides ample basis to conclude that the Plaintiffs would not be able to add the missing—but required—information if provided with another opportunity to bolster their allegations."

The Petito and Schmidt families filed a civil lawsuit in Florida alleging that Brian Laundrie’s parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie, were aware that their son killed their daughter and attempted to help him flee justice.

Bertolino called the lawsuit "baseless and frivolous" and said the Laundries cannot be held liable for exercising their legal right to remain silent.

"The Laundries have exercised their constitutional right to refrain from speaking and have relied on counsel to speak for them," he told Fox News Digital Wednesday. "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."

Bertolino, the family’s longtime friend and lawyer from their New York hometown, is representing the Laundries along with the Tampa-based law firm Trombley and Hanes.

"[We] are confident that the constitutional rights of all citizens of this country will be protected by the dismissal of this lawsuit," he added.

Laundrie and Petito set off on a cross-country road trip last July. By October, both of them had been found dead on opposite ends of the country.

The FBI has identified Laundrie as the sole suspect in Petito’s homicide. She was found bludgeoned and strangled to death at a campground north of Jackson, Wyoming, where the couple had stayed in late August.  

By Sept. 1, Laundrie arrived at his parents’ Florida home driving Petito’s van. By then she was dead. It took 10 days before police arrived at the home looking for her. In that span he went camping with his family south of St. Petersburg and made no public comments about Petito’s disappearance. He invoked his right to remain silent and declined to cooperate with police.


Days later, he set out for the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, 10 minutes from his parents’ house in North Port, and never returned. After a weeks-long search delayed by flooding, Fox News Digital was present in the park when police and Laundrie’s own parents discovered his belongings in a clearing that had been underwater for roughly five weeks. At the same time, investigators found remains nearby that they later determined belonged to him.

The FBI eventually said he died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Materials recovered at the scene suggested he took responsibility for Petito’s death, according to investigators.

Those writings have not been made public.

"It is believed that on August 27, 2021, Brian Laundrie murdered Gabrielle Petito," the civil complaint reads.

Laundrie then sent phony text messages between his cell and Petito’s "in an effort to hide the fact" that she was dead, according to court documents and the FBI.

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The complaint alleges that Laundrie confessed to his parents on Aug. 28 and that the Laundries hired lawyer Bertolino, a longtime friend, on Sept. 2. He has maintained that the Laundries have been his clients "for many years."

"There were multiple conversations between Brian, his parents, and their lawyer Steven Bertolino before Brian left Wyoming on August 30, 2021," Petito family attorney Richard Stafford told Fox News earlier this month. "Christopher and Roberta had multliple opportunities to disclose to Joe, Nichole, or the authorities that Gabby was no longer alive and to direct them to her body."

He added that the Laundrie parents "must be held accountable."

The lawsuit also alleges that the parents were attempting to arrange a way for their son to flee the country.

Court documents show the Petito and Schmidt families are seeking more than $100,000 in damages for alleged negligence, pain and suffering. They are demanding a jury trial.

Fox News' Sarah Rumpf contributed to this report.

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