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Judge grants motion to add Laundrie family attorney to civil suit

The Laundrie's lawyer argues that adding Steven Bertolino to the suit would make it harder for them to defend themselves given attorney-client privilege.

NORTH PORT, Fla — A Sarasota judge on Tuesday granted a motion to add Christopher and Roberta Laundrie's attorney, Steven Bertolino, as a co-defendant to the civil lawsuit against the Laundries.

The Petito family alleges the Laundries and Bertolino knew that Gabby Petito had been murdered long before her body was found and withheld that information from law enforcement, causing harm to the Petito family. 

On the other hand, the Laundrie's lawyer, Matthew Luka of Trombley & Hanes, P.A., argued that adding Bertolino would make it harder for them to defend themselves given attorney-client privilege.

"The Laundries should be able to defend this case without worrying whether their attorney will take an antagonistic position against them," the response states.

Luka also argues that the deadline for amendments to add Bertolino to the lawsuit has passed.

It's unclear whether Bertolino will file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, however, he did release a statement since the judge's decision.

"The decision was not unexpected," Bertolino said in a statement. "This incident, like all others, will work out in the end. One way or the other."

The lawsuit claims Bertolino and the Laundries were already aware that Brian Laundrie had murdered Petito while the cross-country search for the missing 22-year-old was underway. 

"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.   

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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