Gabby Petito's family just won $3 million in a wrongful death suit against Brian Laundrie's estate — but they're not going to get anywhere near that number

  • A judge awarded Gabby Petito's family $3 million in a lawsuit against Brian Laundrie's estate.

  • But Laundrie's estate is estimated to be about $20,000.

  • Petito's family plans to donate whatever funds they receive to the Gabby Petito Foundation they started.

A Florida judge ruled in favor of Gabby Petito's family in their wrongful death lawsuit against Brian Laundrie's estate, awarding them $3 million — but they won't actually get anywhere near that number.

Because Laundrie's estate totals less than $3 million, the family will be awarded whatever is left.

"Brian did not have $3 million; it's an arbitrary number," the Petito family's lawyer, Pat Reilly, said in a statement on behalf of the family.

When asked whether Laundrie's estate has $3 million to give, Laundrie family attorney Steve Bertolino said "No, it does not. Only about $20,000."

"At the last court conference for this claim against Brian's Estate, I indicated to Judge Carroll that I would work with attorney Reilly to find a resolution to the wrongful death claim to avoid the expense of a trial when the outcome of a money judgment was unavoidable," Bertolino said in a statement to Insider. "Hopefully, this brings some closure to this one chapter of this tragedy and I look forward to working with Pat Reilly to resolve the litigation pending against Chris and Roberta."

Petito's parents, Joe Petito and Nichole Schmidt, plan to donate whatever they get from Laundrie's estate to the Gabby Petito Foundation, which they started to address domestic violence.

The foundation will "continue to address the needs of organizations that support locating missing persons and to provide aid to organizations that assist victims of domestic violence situations," the statement from Reilly said.

Schmidt filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Laundrie's estate in May for "damages which exceed $30,000," NBC News reported at the time.

"The death of Gabrielle Venora Petito resulted from the intentional acts of Brian Laundrie," the complaint, filed by Reilly on behalf of Schmidt in Sarasota County, said, according to NBC News.

"As a direct and proximate consequence of Brian Laundrie's tortious conduct, Nichole Schmidt and Joseph Petito incurred funeral and burial expenses, and they have suffered a loss of care and comfort, and have suffered a loss of probably future companionship, society, and comfort," the complaint said.

Reilly told Forbes that the settlement is separate from a lawsuit Petito's parents filed against Laundrie's parents in March, in which they accuse Laundrie's parents of hindering the search for their daughter by refusing to reveal information about her whereabouts.

In November, Petito's parents also filed a $50 million lawsuit accusing Utah police of being responsible for Petito's death, saying an officer who responded to a call about Petito and Laundrie was biased against their daughter.

"Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt wish to turn their personal tragedy into a positive," Reilly's statement said. "It is their hope that Gabby's foundation will bring these important issues into the forefront of the public eye to the benefit of all our communities."

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