A Sarasota County, Florida, judge ruled Thursday in favor of Gabby Petito’s family in a wrongful-death lawsuit against the estate of Brian Laundrie.
The suit had alleged that Brian Laundrie’s parents, Christopher and Roberta Laundrie, were aware their son murdered Petito after she had gone missing during a road trip in August 2021. The family will likely receive far less from Laundrie’s estate, but Petito’s family said they intend to donate every penny to the Gabby Petito Foundation, which is a charity created in their daughter’s memory.
Petito’s family additionally filed a civil lawsuit against Laundrie’s estate citing similar allegations, and they’re additionally suing the Moab Police Department over what they viewed as an insufficient response to their daughter’s disappearance.
The latter filing claims the police didn’t thoroughly investigate Laundrie during their encounters with him, and that authorities made him out to be the victim rather than Petito. The family accuses the police of “egregiously misinterpreting” the incident, and that their case is a “vehicle for systemic change and a reckoning about how the police enforce the State’s domestic abuse laws.”
Officers had encountered the couple on Aug. 12, 2021, and found Petito crying with visible cuts on her face and arm. The police merely said they stay apart for the night. Petito died by strangulation in Wyoming a few days later, and Brian, who police later found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, seemed to confess to the crime in a journal entry.
Gabby Petito’s family is pursuing $50 million in damages.
“We feel profound sympathy for the Petito and Schmidt families and the painful loss they have endured,” the city of Moab told TMZ. “At the same time, it is clear that Moab City Police Department officers are not responsible for Gabrielle Petito’s eventual murder.”
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