Judge awards $3M to Gabby Petito's family in suit against Brian Laundrie's estate

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A judge in Sarasota County, Florida, has awarded Gabby Petito’s family $3 million in the wrongful death lawsuit they filed against Brian Laundrie’s estate.

The suit, filed in May, alleged Christopher and Roberta Laundrie knew their son, Brian, murdered Petito.

The family has also filed a civil lawsuit against the Laundries that alleges the same thing. They’re also suing the Moab Police Department over its response to an incident involving the couple.

Petito went missing during the couple’s lengthy road trip, which they documented on their YouTube and Instagram pages. Her body was found on Sept. 19 near Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park.

Investigators searched for Laundrie for more than a month before his body was found in Sarasota County’s Carlton Reserve. The FBI said he shot himself in the head and confessed to killing Petito in a notebook found near his remains.

“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 suit said.

The suit sought a trial by jury and “damages which exceed $30,000.”

On Thursday, Circuit Judge Hunter W. Carroll found Laundrie’s estate liable for Petitio’s death and awarded $3 million in damages to her estate. As a result, the trial scheduled for December will not be held.

Brian Laundrie’s assets are believed to be in the five figures, therefore it’s unlikely the family will receive $3 million. Petito’s parents said they plan to donate the money they receive to the Gabby Petito Foundation, which was created in their daughter’s honor to help families and friends of missing people.  

This story is developing and will be updated.

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