VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida judge will hear arguments Tuesday on whether the depositions given by Brian Laundrie’s parents will have limitations in the civil lawsuit filed by Gabby Petito’s parents.
Judge Hunter W. Carroll set a pre-trial hearing in the lawsuit against Laundrie’s parents, Chris and Roberta, for Tuesday at 11:15am. The hearing will be streamed on WFLA.com and the WFLA app.
In October, the Laundries filed a motion to limit the depositions to the events that occurred between Aug. 27, 2021— the day Petito is believed to have been killed—and Sept. 19, 2021, the day her remains were discovered.
According to the motion, the Laundries are seeking to avoid having to disclose “irrelevant matters” in order to protect them from “annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, undue burden and expense.”
“This has been a truly heartbreaking experience for both families,” the motion reads. “The public who followed the case and the Plaintiffs are likely curious about Brian Laundrie’s life, his last days, his interaction with his parents, and the thoughts and feelings experienced by his parents. But curiosity is not a reason to require the Defendants to discuss such personal and heart wrenching details. Rather, the discovery must be relevant to the cause of action at issue.”
Pat Reilly, the attorney representing Petito’s parents, Joe Petito and Nichole Schmidt, called the motion “premature.”
“The Motion for a Protective Order filed by counsel on behalf of Christopher and Roberta Laundrie is premature, as there has not yet been any questions posed to them in a deposition,” Petito and Schmidt attorney Patrick Reilly said in a statement to WFLA.com “It seeks to limit any inquiry to a very limited time frame, that being a 23 day period of the lives of Christopher Laundrie, Roberta Laundrie and Brian Laundrie, while at the same time the motion acknowledges that Florida’s rules of discovery are liberal.”
“The motion suggests that any inquiry outside that 23 day window would cause the Laundries annoyance, embarrassment, oppression or undue burden or expense. This is yet another example of the Laundrie family refusing to provide answers to the parents of Gabby Petito. We look forward to addressing this issue with the Court.”
Reilly says Petito and Schmidt will not be in attendance for Tuesday’s hearing. Steve Bertolino, the attorney for the Laundries, says his clients will not be at the hearing either.
“We are just looking to confine the questioning to matters and the time frame relevant to the claim that has been filed,” Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino told WFLA.com in October.
Judge Hunter W. Carroll heard arguments in June on the Laundrie’s motion to deny the lawsuit from proceeding to a jury trial, but ruled against it. The hearing, which Petito’s parents attended but the Laundries did not, marked the first court event in the Petito case.
Court records show the jury trial is scheduled for August 2023.
Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito were traveling together on a cross-country van trip in July 2021 before Laundrie returned home to North Port, Florida without his fiancée, spurring an intense, nationwide search for Petito.
Gabby Petito family attorney claims Roberta Laundrie sent letter to son marked ‘burn after you read’
During the search, the Laundries released a statement through their attorney, saying it was their ”hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family.” Petito and Schmidt claim the Laundries released this statement knowing Gabby was dead and the location of her body.
Petito’s remains were found in September in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. After an exhaustive manhunt led by the FBI, Laundrie’s remains were found in the Carlton Reserve in North Port. His death was later ruled a suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Earlier this year, attorneys released an eight-page notebook confession left behind by Brian that provided his explanation for claiming Petito’s life.