Petito and Laundrie Families to Avoid Messy Court Battle After Agreement Struck

Thomas O'Neill/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Thomas O'Neill/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The families of Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie emerged from a mediation conference in Venice, Florida on Wednesday with a confidential resolution that will see them avoid a civil trial later this year, according to their attorneys.

The Petito family said that they’d reached the agreement with Laundrie’s parents and lawyer Steven Bertolino after “a long day of mediation,” according to a statement shared with local station WFLA by lawyer Pat Reilly.

The agreement, they continued, was “reluctantly agreed” upon 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,” the Petitos said.

The Daily Beast has reached out to Reilly for more information.

In his own statement, Bertolino confirmed that the Petito’s civil lawsuit had been resolved. “The terms of the resolution are confidential, and we look forward to putting this matter behind us,” he told WFLA.

Had mediation been unsuccessful, the civil trial would have begun in May.

Gabby Petito’s remains were discovered in Wyoming on Sept. 19, 2021, eight days after she’d been reported missing by her parents after failing to return from a cross-country roadtrip with her fiancé, Laundrie.

Having returned home to Florida and refusing to speak with authorities investigating the case, Laundrie himself vanished just days before her body was found. His disappearance sparked a weekslong manhunt that ended in October, when his body was found in a Florida nature reserve.

Laundrie, who was ruled to have died by self-inflicted gunshot wound, was 23. He admitted in writings found after his death to having killed Petito, strangling her to death in Grand Teton National Forest in late August. She was 22.

Chilling Pic Shows Gabby Petito Had Obvious Injuries When Cops Let Laundrie Go

Petito’s 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. The bombshell suit claimed that the Laundries had known about Gabby’s death for weeks before her body was found, but “acted with malice or great indifference” as the Petitos waited in agony to learn of her fate.

“It is believed, and therefore averred that… Brian Laundrie advised his parents, Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie, that he had murdered Gabrielle Petito,” the original complaint stated. “On that same date, Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie spoke with Attorney Steve Bertolino, and sent him a retainer on Sept. 2, 2021.”

The lawsuit sought at least $30,000 in damages for the Petitos.

The Laundries, Roberta and Christopher, fought back, arguing they couldn’t be held liable for “silence.” They filed to dismiss the lawsuit later that month, calling it “baseless” and “frivolous.” By that summer, though, a judge had thrown out the motion, clearing the way for the suit to move forward.

The Petitos amended their lawsuit with fresh allegations last November, including that Brian had called his parents in a panic on Aug. 29, 2021, telling them that Gabby was “gone” and that he would need a lawyer. It claimed that, in the ensuing days, Roberta and Christopher would continue to make statements expressing hope that Gabby would be found, even as they knew the location of her body.

Panicked Brian Laundrie Called His Parents 20 Times After Killing Gabby Petito

“Christopher Laundrie, Roberta Laundrie and Steven Bertolino exhibited conduct which was outrageous and went beyond all bounds of decency and is regarded as odious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community,” the complaint alleged.

No criminal charges have ever been filed against the Laundries.

As the proceedings played out in that case, the Petitos separately pursued other lines of justice. In May 2022, they filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Brian Laundrie’s estate. That case wrapped up without the need for a trial six months later, when a Florida judge came down in the Petitos’ favor and awarded them $3 million.

The sum was largely symbolic, Reilly told reporters at the time. “Brian did not have $3 million,” he explained to FOX 13. “It’s an arbitrary number.”

Around the time of that ruling, the Petitos also filed a $50 million wrongful death suit against the Moab Police Department in Utah, saying it and its officers could have saved Gabby’s life had it not been for their “negligent failure.”

Judge Awards Gabby Petito’s Family $3 Million From Brian Laundrie’s Estate

The case, which has yet to be resolved, is expected to center around an encounter with Moab police that Petito and Laundrie had on Aug. 12, 2021, just days before her death. Body camera footage from the incident showed a sobbing Petito telling the officer that she’d gotten into a physical altercation with her fiancé.

“We’ve just been fighting this morning. Personal issues,” she said at one point in the video.

No charges were filed in the matter after Petito and Laundrie agreed to separate for the night. The City of Moab has denied responsibility for Petito’s death.

An independent review, completed in January 2022, found that the officers who encountered the couple had made several mistakes in handling the situation, but concluded it was “an impossible question to answer” whether Petito might have lived had they responded differently.

At a press conference announcing the suit, Schmidt explained they were trying to ensure what happened to Gabby would never happen to another abuse victim. “We feel we need to bring justice because she could have been protected that day,” she said.

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