The family of Brian Laundrie, who was subject to a multistate manhunt in connection to the disappearance of fiancee Gabby Petito, filed court papers to dismiss a Petito family lawsuit against them.
Laundrie family attorney Steve Bertolino filed a 20-page motion to dismiss the lawsuit from Petito’s parents and step-parents that alleged Chris and Roberta Laundrie were aware that Brian killed Gabby and helped him evade capture.
Bertolino, however, wrote that Chris and Roberta Laundrie were exercising their Constitutional right to remain silent.
Further, he told Fox News that the lawsuit against his clients is “baseless and frivolous,” adding: “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.”
“The gravamen of the claimed wrongdoing is that the Laundries exercised their constitutional rights and essentially made no statements to Plaintiffs or law enforcement,” their motion read. “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.”
The motion further contends that “compelling individuals to respond to inquiries by private citizens or law enforcement through a civil action like this would turn our entire constitutional system and the freedom afforded individuals in this country on its head,” reported the New York Post.
Petito and Laundrie took a cross-country trip in the summer of 2021. However, weeks later, in September, Petito’s family filed a missing person complaint, while Laundrie returned home alone to Florida.
The FBI has identified Laundrie as the only person of interest in the case. After Petito was found dead in Wyoming, authorities began a search for Laundrie—mainly focusing on a wildlife preserve near his family home in North Port, Florida.
Eventually, the FBI concluded Laundrie died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. And investigators claimed that materials found near his body suggested he took responsibility for Petito’s slaying, although that evidence has not been made public.
But Petito family attorney Richard Stafford told news outlets that “there were multiple conversations between Brian, his parents, and their lawyer Steven Bertolino before Brian left Wyoming on August 30, 2021.”
“Christopher and Roberta (Petito) had multliple opportunities to disclose to Joe, Nichole, or the authorities that Gabby was no longer alive and to direct them to her body,” the lawyer said. Their lawsuit also contends the Laundries were trying to arrange a way for their son to leave the United States.