Gabby Petito's parents settle wrongful death suit against Laundries for $3 million

Attorney Patrick Reilly said no amount of money is enough, but whatever the family gets will go to the Gabby Petitio Foundation.

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Friday, November 18, 2022
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The family of "Gabby" Petito settled their wrongful-death lawsuit against Brian Laundrie's estate for $3 million. Kristen Thorne has the story.

SARASOTA, Florida -- The family of Gabby Petito settled their wrongful death lawsuit against Brian Laundrie's estate for $3 million

A circuit judge of Sarasota County in Florida has awarded Petito's family a total of $3 million in the lawsuit the family filed against Laundrie's estate back in May.

Petito's family filed their original complaint against Laundrie's estate on May 6, asking for more than $30,000 in damages that they incurred for funeral and burial expenses.

The complaint also claimed that Petito's family "suffered a loss of care and comfort, and suffered a loss of probably future companionship, society, and comfort."

Laundrie's parents, Roberta and Christopher Laundrie, were administrators of their son's estate.

Attorney Patrick Reilly said no amount of money is enough, but whatever the family gets will go to the Gabby Petitio Foundation.

Earlier in November, the Petitos filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against the Moab City Police Department, alleging its officers were negligent in their interactions with the 22-year-old and her fiancé two weeks before her death last summer.

"The purpose of this lawsuit is to honor Gabby's legacy by demanding accountability and working toward systemic changes to protect victims of domestic abuse and violence and prevent such tragedies in the future," attorney James W. McConkie said in a statement.

The lawsuit accuses the department and its officers of failing to follow the law and failing to protect Petito during an investigation into a domestic disturbance in August -- just weeks before Laundrie killed her.

The lawsuit states that officers improperly determined Petito was the primary aggressor in the interaction and misapplied Utah's laws related to domestic abuse. It also accuses the police department of failing to properly train its officers in these issues.

The City of Moab issued a statement Thursday denying responsibility for her death and saying it would defend against the lawsuit.

"The death of Gabrielle Petito in Wyoming is a terrible tragedy, and we feel profound sympathy for the Petito and Schmidt families and the painful loss they have endured. At the same time, it is clear that Moab City Police Department officers are not responsible for Gabrielle Petito's eventual murder," the city said.

Petito was 22 when she and her fiancé, Laundrie, 23, embarked on a road trip through the American West last summer, documenting their #VanLife experiences online in idyllic, sun-drenched posts.

Despite their online appearance, their relationship was rocky and at turns violent. Petito was reported missing after Laundrie returned to his parents' Florida home on September 1 and her parents were unable to contact her, sparking a nationwide hunt that became a fascination for online sleuths.

Her body was found several weeks later in Grand Teton National Forest, and a coroner ruled she died by strangulation. Laundrie subsequently went missing in a Florida nature preserve, and his body was found in mid-October alongside a notebook in which he admitted killing her.

A review of the Moab Police Department's handling of the incident by an independent investigator -- a captain with the police department in Price, Utah, about 115 miles away -- recommended the two officers who responded be placed on probation, saying they made "several unintentional mistakes" -- namely failing to cite anyone for domestic violence, though there appeared to be only sufficient evidence to charge Petito.

The investigative report, released in January, recommended new policies for the department, including additional domestic violence training and legal training for officers.

The city at the time did not address any potential discipline for the two officers but said it "intends to implement the report's recommendations" on new policies for the police department, including additional domestic violence training and legal training for officers.

CNN contributed to this report.