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Brian Laundrie's parents hire new lawyer in Petito lawsuit | What's next in the case?

Gabby Petito's parents are suing for emotional distress, claiming the Laundrie family knew Brian killed Gabby long before her body was found.
Credit: AP

NORTH PORT, Fla. — Brian Laundrie's parents have hired a new lawyer in their ongoing civil case brought on by Gabby Petito's parents.

Court documents obtained by 10 Tampa Bay reveal that Christopher and Roberta Laundrie have requested to terminate their retainer with Tampa-based law firm Trombley & Hanes and have instead retained Ryan L. Gilbert of Ryan Gilbert Law.

The reason for the switch in representation is not clear.

The civil lawsuit was filed last year in Sarasota County. In it, Gabby Petitio's parents — Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt — claim the Laundries and their lawyer Steven Bertolino were already aware that Brian had murdered Gabby long before her body was found and withheld that information from law enforcement, causing the "mental suffering and anguish" the Petito family faced in the desperate search for their daughter.

"Christopher Laundrie, Roberta Laundrie and Steven Bertolino further knew that they could prevent such additional mental suffering and anguish of Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt by disclosing what they knew about the well-being and location of the remains of Gabrielle Petito, yet they repeatedly refused to do so," the complaint reads.   

The lawsuit calls Bertolino and the Laundries' actions "beyond outrageous" and claims they acted with "malice or great indifference" to the rights of Petito's family.

Petito and Schmidt are seeking damages that exceed $30,000 for their "suffering and anguish."

What's next in the Laundrie-Petito lawsuit?

A judge in June denied the Laundries' motion to dismiss the civil lawsuit brought on by Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt

The trial against the Laundrie family and their attorney, Bertolino, is set to begin on May 13, 2024. A pre-trial conference is scheduled ahead in March 2024.

Back in November 2022, a judge ruled in favor of Gabby Petito's family in a wrongful death lawsuit against Brian Laundrie's estate, awarding the family $3 million from his estate, court documents show.

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