According to the lawsuit, Petito and Laundrie, who had been her fiancé, left New York in July to take a cross-country trip, during which Petito hoped to become a travel influencer by documenting the details of their journey on social media. Petito was in constant contact with her parents and sibling during the trip, the suit said, and their last communication with them was on August 27.
Laundrie’s remains were later found in a Florida nature preserve and a medical examiner ruled he died by suicide. Nearby, authorities found a notebook in which they said Laundrie claimed responsibility for Petito’s death.
“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.
Schmidt is asking for a trial by jury, and although the lawsuit does not list a specific monetary amount, it does ask for “damages which exceed $30,000.”
The Laundrie family’s attorney downplayed the suit in an email to CNN on Saturday.
“The filing of the wrongful death lawsuit by the Petito family was fully expected. This lawsuit will most likely not be defended and the Petitos will have gained nothing more than a piece of paper that tells them what everyone already knows, which is that Brian was responsible for Gabby’s death as indicated by the FBI,” Steven P. Bertolino, an attorney who represents the Laundrie family, told CNN.
CNN has reached out to Schmidt’s attorney but did not hear back Saturday.