Brian Laundrie's family argues their ex-lawyer shouldn't be added as co-defendant to Gabby Petito lawsuit
TAMPA, FLORIDA: A month after Gabby Petito's parents filed a motion to include the Laundrie family's former lawyer as a co-defendant in their lawsuit against the Laundrie family, the latter has expressed their concerns regarding the same. The new lawyer of Chris and Roberta Laundrie argued that the motion to add Steven Bertolino may create a conflict of interest and has requested the judge to dismiss the motion at the earliest.
On Tuesday afternoon, January 3, the lawyer now representing the Laundries – Matthew Luka – told the court, “Mr Bertolino’s knowledge is certainly far more than the Laundrie parents.” "Even after Brian Laundrie's death, Mr. Bertolino still owes a duty of confidentiality to Brian Laundrie," Luka wrote. He further argued that Bertolino should not be a co-defendant in the lawsuit because it invades attorney-client privilege.
"Pitting the Laundries and Mr. Bertolino as co-defendants undoubtedly creates a conflict because both have interest in defending themselves to the potential detriment of the other," the motion reads in part. “Yet, he cannot disclose what he knows or the reasons why he took certain actions because, even after Brian Laundrie’s death, Mr. Bertolino still owes a duty of confidentiality to Brian Laundrie.”
In the lawsuit filed last year, Gabby Petito's parents - Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt - alleged that Laundrie's former lawyer Bertolino knew a lot about the death of their daughter, Gabby Petito before the statement was released on September 14, 2021. The Petito family decided to file the Second Amended Complaint to add Bertolino, believing he was also aware of Gabby's murder before her body was found.
The Petito family is appalled by the fact that Steven Bertolino made a statement wherein he said that he hopes for Gabby to be found and reunited with her family knowing she was dead at the time. They called the statement “insensitive, cold-hearted and outrageous". Pat Reilly, a lawyer for the Petito family, said, “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".
Before Gabby's remains were discovered on September 19, 2021, the Petitos' lawyer Richard Stafford read a letter at a news briefing three days prior to the Laundrie family, begging for help in the case. “Please, if you or your family have any decency left, please, tell us where Gabby is located,” Stafford had said, adding that, “Tell us if we are even looking in the right place. All we want is for Gabby to come home. Please help us make that happen.”
On September 15, 2021, North Port Police named Brian as a “person of interest” in the missing case of Gabby. Two days earlier, on 13 September, Brian left home, reportedly telling his parents he was going for a hike in the nearby Carlton Reserve. On October 20, 2021, Brian was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, along with a notebook where he allegedly confessed to killing Gabby.