Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie’s families avoid trial in emotional distress lawsuit

The families of Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie have reached an out of court resolution, avoiding the need to go to trial over “emotional distress” claims later this year.

The “confidential resolution” was announced on Wednesday in a joint statement from Joseph and Tara Petito and Nichole and James Schmidt. The parties had agreed “reluctantly” to the resolution, the statement said.

“After a long day of mediation, a confidential resolution has been reached between the parents of Gabby Petitio, the parents of Brian Laundrie and Attorney Steven Bertolino to which all parties reluctantly agreed in order to avoid further legal expenses and prolonged personal conflict.

“Our hope is to close this chapter of our lives to allow us to move on and continue to honor the legacy of our beautiful daughter, Gabby.”

Petito’s parents accused the parents of her fiance of knowing that their son had killed their daughter but deliberately concealing information. Christopher and Roberta Laundrie said they did not know that Brian had killed Gabby but Ms Laundrie admitted the thought “probably went through my mind”.

Petito’s remains were discovered in Wyoming on 19 September 2021, eight days after she was first reported missing by her parents after failing to return from a cross-country roadtrip with her fiance – Laundrie. She had been strangled.

Gabby Petito’s remains were discovered in Wyoming on 19 September 2021 (Joseph Petito/Instagram)
Gabby Petito’s remains were discovered in Wyoming on 19 September 2021 (Joseph Petito/Instagram)

Laundrie himself vanished just days before her body was found, having previously refused to speak to authorities. His disappearance sparked a weekslong manhunt that ended in October, when his body was found in a Florida nature reserve. The 23-year-old was believed to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Petito, who is believed to have been killed by Laundrie in late August, was 22.

Her parents, Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt, first filed their lawsuit against the Laundries in March 2022, accusing them of hindering the search for their daughter.

Laundrie told his parents that Petito was “gone” and that he needed a lawyer in a phone call to his father weeks before her remains were found in Wyoming, according to depositions taken by lawyers for the Petito family.

The suit alleged that the Laundries had known about Gabby’s death for weeks before her body was found, but “acted with malice or great indifference”.

Petito’s father previously said he questioned why the parents of his daughter’s boyfriend were not helping to bring her home, despite their claims that the couple were “sweet” together. “They supposedly love Gabby, but all they did was show that they didn’t give two s***s about her,” he said.