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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The attorney for Brian Laundrie’s parents says his clients have filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging they knew their 23-year-old son killed Gabby Petito in August.
Petito’s parents, Joe Petito and Nichole Schmidt, are suing Chris and Roberta Laundrie, Brian Laundrie’s parents, alleging they were told by their son of Petito’s murder “on or about” Aug. 28. The lawsuit filed by Petito’s family earlier this month also claims the Laundries sought to help their son leave the country.
The Laundrie family’s attorney Steven Bertolino says the allegations in the lawsuit are “baseless and “frivolous.”
“The Laundries have exercised their constitutional right to refrain from speaking and have relied on counsel to speak for them,” Bertolino said in a statement. “This is not only common practice in our civilized society but it embodies the exercise of fundamental rights under the United States and Florida Constitutions.”
In his statement, Bertolino says the Laundries cannot be held liable for exercising their legal rights.
The lawsuit filed by Petito and Schmidt accuses the Laundrie family of acting “with malice or great indifference to the rights of” Petito’s family. Petito and Schmidt are seeking damages of at least $100,000, stating that they suffered pain and mental anguish as a result of the “willfulness and maliciousness” of the Laundries.
“While Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt were desperately searching for information concerning their daughter, Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie were keeping the whereabouts of Brian Laundrie secret, and it is believed were making arrangements for him to leave the country,” the suit says.
The documents contain several bombshell allegations that were not previously mentioned by the FBI, the lead investigating agency on the Petito and Laundrie case. The lawsuit does not contain any evidence for the claims, however, it could be introduced by Petito and Schmidt’s representatives as the legal process plays out in court.
“They’ll have to wait and see,” Petito and Schmidt attorney Pat Reilly told WFLA Now’s JB Biunno when asked if they have evidence to back up the allegations in the lawsuit. “If we didn’t believe it was true, we wouldn’t have put them in the complaint.”