Judge rules against motion to limit discovery in civil lawsuit against family of Brian Laundrie

ABC7 News at 6pm
Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 12:08 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 22, 2022 at 4:17 PM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A judge has ruled that Christopher and Roberta Laundrie will have to answer a wide range of questions in depositions in a civil suit brought against them by the parents of Gabby Petito.

Sarasota County Judge Hunter W. Carroll ruled against the Laundrie family’s motion to limit questioning to a three-week window in 2021, between the time when Petito was killed and when her body was found in a national park in Wyoming.

The motion asked the court to prohibit the Petito family’s lawyers from probing into “irrelevant matters during their depositions in order to protect them from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, undue burden and expense.”

Gabby Petito’s parents, Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt, are suing the Laundries, claiming the Laundries knew their daughter was dead and refused to tell them, causing pain and suffering, and mental anguish.

“It was obviously a terrible thing to happen to both families,” said Matthew Luka, a lawyer representing the Laundries. “We were hoping they wouldn’t have to relive that.”

Patrick Reilly, the attorney for Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt, said his clients were pleased. “I believe it was the right decision.”

Reilly dismissed the Laundries’ fear that questioning would cause embarrassment. “Frankly, that’s too bad,” he said.

Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie were on a cross-country trek when Gabby disappeared. Brian returned to his parents’ home in North Port without Gabby. Her body was later found in Wyoming and her death was ruled a homicide.

Brian eventually took his own life, leaving behind a letter confessing to killing Gabby.

In a hearing on Nov. 22, a judge ruled against the motion would limit questioning to that specific time window. Depositions will begin Dec. 1, court records show.

ABC7 spoke with Reilly after the ruling and he stated that the pain and embarrassment the Laundrie family felt “pales in comparison to the emotional distress that’s been caused to Joseph Petito and Nichole Shcmidt.”