The mother of Gabby Petito is seeking justice for her daughter.
On May 6, Nichole Schmidt filed a new wrongful death lawsuit in Florida against the curator of the estate of deceased Brian Laundrie. The lawsuit, obtained by Fox News, seeks damages of at least $30,000. The complaint, obtained by E! News, alleges that Laundrie murdered Petito, and as a direct result, Schmidt and Gabby's father, Joseph Petito, "incurred funeral and burial expenses, and they have suffered a loss of care and comfort, and suffered a loss of probable future companionship, society and comfort."
The filing also requests a trial by jury and judgment for compensatory damages.
Laundrie's attorney Steven Bertolino told E! News that the lawsuit does not come as a surprise.
"The filing of the wrongful death lawsuit by the Petito family was fully expected," Bertolino said in a statement E! News on May 6. "This lawsuit will most likely not be defended and the Petitos will have gained nothing more than a piece of paper that tells them what everyone already knows—which is that Brian was responsible for Gabby's death as indicated by the FBI."
Petito's case garnered national attention in September 2021 when the aspiring YouTuber was declared missing while on a cross-country road trip with Laundrie, her fiancé, who had mysteriously returned home to Florida solo, in her van.
On September 19, the 22-year-old's remains were discovered at a camping area in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. Her cause of death was ruled a homicide due to "blunt-force injuries to the head and neck, with manual strangulation."
At the time, Laundrie and his parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie, did not share any information with law enforcement and referred officials to their attorney. Laundrie later disappeared during the investigation.
After a month-long search, the 23-year-old was found dead in Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in North Port, Fla., where his parents believe he went the last time they saw him on Sept. 13. Personal items belonging to Laundrie were discovered near his remains including a notebook in which claimed "responsibility" for Petito's death.
The new lawsuit comes two months after Petito's parents filed a civil lawsuit in Florida claiming that Laundrie's parents were aware that their son killed their daughter and attempted to help him flee justice. The Petito family is seeking "compensation for the damages they have suffered" as well as additional relief.
"While Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt were desperately searching for information concerning their daughter," the lawsuit states, "Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie were keeping the whereabouts of Brian Laundrie secret, and it is believed were making arrangements for him to leave the country."
Bertolino filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on March 30, arguing that there are no facts to support their claims of "intentional infliction of emotional distress."
"Assuming everything the Petitos allege in their lawsuit is true, which we deny, this lawsuit does not change the fact that the Laundries had no obligation to speak to Law Enforcement or any third-party including the Petito family," Bertolino said in a statement to E! News in March. "This fundamental legal principle renders the Petito's claims to be baseless under the law."
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