VENICE, FLORIDA: A Florida judge has allowed Gabby Petitio to add a new defendant to the lawsuit they filed against the parents of Brian Laundrie. Judge Danielle Brewer said the Petito family and their attorneys did not abuse their privilege in amending their lawsuit, and that the amendment itself was not futile.
Joe Petito and Nichole Schmidt, Petito’s parents, looked for adding Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino to the suit against Brian’s parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie. “Gabby was there with us,” said Schmidt to WFLA. “I could feel her.” “[Gabby’s parents] are happy,” said Pat Reilly, the attorney for Petito and Schmidt. “They’ve been through a lot. They’ve had to listen to a lot of statements made by Mr Bertolino on behalf of the family, statements that were sometimes hurtful to them. And so, they believe by bringing Mr Bertolino in, they ultimately will get justice for what has occurred.”
Bertolino told the outlet that until he is served with the lawsuit, he will assess his legal options. “The decision was not unexpected,” Bertolino said. “This incident, like all others, will work out in the end. One way or the other. Once I am [served] I will engage counsel and proceed accordingly.”
— Sydney Roell SNN (@sydneyroell) January 24, 2023
Petitio’s parents are suing Brian’s parents for reportedly having Bertolino issue a statement expressing hope that Petito would be found despite knowing the fact that their son had already killed her and did nothing about it. “It is believed that at the time the September 14, 2021 statement was issued, the Laundries and Steven Bertolino knew that Gabby Petito was deceased and that under those circumstances, the statement was insensitive, cold-hearted, and outrageous,” Reilly said. “Thus, after much consideration, the parents of Gabby Petito filed a Motion for Leave of Court this afternoon asking the court for permission to file a Second Amended Complaint to add Steven Bertolino as a defendant in the action. Motions of this type are liberally granted by the court. Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt are seeking justice and accountability for the loss of their daughter and the attendant harm caused them.”
Attorney Matt Luka, who argued against adding Bertolino to the lawsuit, said the deadline for the amendment had passed. The decision to include Bertolino is not a usual occurrence, according to him. He said Bertolino will likely file his own motion to dismiss the lawsuit. “We’re hopeful that the judge grants Mr Bertolino’s motion to dismiss if he does file one, and that this won’t be an issue once we get to trial,” he said.
Judge Hunter W Carroll ruled against the Laundries’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit in the previous year. Carroll also denied a motion to limit the scope of the Laundrie’s testimonies which are expected to take place in the upcoming months. It will make the first time the parents of Petito and Laundrie will be in the same room since the death of their children in 2021.
‘Great job Judge’
Twitter users also reacted to the news. One tweeted, “As much as I dislike the entire mess of how that family handled things I’m interested how this is viewed in a legal sense. Does it set some interesting precedents for lawyers in the future?” Another wrote, “What they did was wrong from the very beginning. I wholeheartedly believe the Laundries were given bad advice from their friend/attorney. He coached them every step of the way. His statement about Gabby was misleading. The truth will all come out someway somehow. Thankyou Judge”. One added, “Great job Judge!!!” while another tweeted, “I have been saying they need to bring the parents to trial for the longest time. Why did they hide him and what why would they want to be accessories for their son???? Time to tell the truth of what happened.” “Good news. You can’t lie and assist murderers and get away with it”, wrote another user.
Good news. You can’t lie and assist murderers and get away with it.
— DameTannersTavern (@TavernTanners) January 24, 2023