A judge in Sarasota County, Florida, awarded Gabby Petito’s family $3 million Thursday in a wrongful death lawsuit against the estate of Brian Laundrie.
The lawsuit is separate from the negligence lawsuit Petito’s parents, Joseph Petito and Nicole Schmidt, filed against Laundrie’s parents. That case is expected to go to trial next August.
As a result of the ruling in favor of Petito’s family, a trial that had been set for this December will not be held.
“The Petito family lost their daughter, and they were also denied the opportunity to confront her killer,” Patrick Reilly, the Petito family’s attorney, said in a statement. “No amount of money is sufficient to compensate the Petito family for the loss of their daughter, Gabby, at the hands of Brain Laundrie.”
Reilly said any money the family does receive, which is not expected to be anywhere near $3 million, will go toward the Gabby Petito Foundation.
The foundation partners with organizations that help locate missing people and aid victims of domestic violence.
“Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt wish to turn their personal tragedy into a positive,” the statement says. “It is their hope that Gabby’s foundation will bring these important issues into the forefront of the public eye to benefit of all our communities.”
Schmidt, as the administrator of the estate of Gabrielle Venora Petito, filed the wrongful death suit in May 2022 for damages of more than $30,000, according to the complaint.
“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 probable future companionship, society, and comfort,” the complaint said.
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, part of the USA TODAY Network, reached out for comment to Barry Spivey, curator of the estate of Brian Laundrie, and has not yet heard back.
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Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie set off on a cross-country van trip
Petito and Laundrie were engaged in July 2020 and a year later set off on a cross-country van trip starting in New York.
During the trip, Petito stopped communicating with her family, whom she had contacted almost daily, which caused her family to become concerned.
Petito was later found dead from blunt force trauma near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming in September 2021. Laundrie returned home to Florida before disappearing. His remains were found Oct. 20, 2021, in Myakkahatcchee Creek Park in North Port, Florida. He died by suicide, leaving a note confessing to killing Petito.
Petito’s parents also have filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against the Moab city police in Utah, accusing officers of not properly handling a domestic incident between Petito and Laundrie after they were pulled over in a traffic stop.
Gabriela Szymanowska covers the legal system for the Herald-Tribune in partnership with Report for America. You can support her work with a tax-deductible donation to Report for America. Contact Gabriela Szymanowska at [email protected], or on Twitter.