SARASOTA, Fla. - The parents of Brian Laundrie have asked a judge to limit depositions in the civil suit filed by Gabby Petito's family, saying it will "protect them from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, undue burden and expense," according to the motion filed by their attorney.
Court records show that the attorneys for Christopher and Roberta Laundrie filed the motion, asking the judge to limit their depositions to the time period between Gabby's death last August and the discovery of her body a few weeks later. The civil lawsuit was filed by Gabby's parents, Nichole Schmidt and Joseph Petito.
"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," the motion states. "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."
"They say in their pleadings that the family has gone through a lot, they have suffered a lot," said legal analyst Anthony Rickman. "They have suffered the loss of their son. They know their son is a murderer," Rickman said.
The motion says the Laundries should be "protected from annoyance and embarrassment," and that "public curiosity is not a reason to require them to discuss personal and heart-wrenching details."
"What the defense is doing is trying to put the plaintiffs in a box," Rickman said.
Legal analyst Imran Ansari says that box could exclude crucial questions, ones that could get further into the Laundries' state of mind.
"It would be important to know what the parents know about the interactions between Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito, and what their thoughts and feelings were about that."
Petito's parents are suing the Laundries for emotional distress and claim they knew their son murdered Gabby as authorities were searching for the 22-year-old across the country last fall and didn't tell detectives. Their daughter embarked on a long-term road trip with Brian, but would never return home.
Instead of telling authorities what they knew about Gabby's whereabouts, and her death, the lawsuit claims the Laundries hid behind their own legal council, Steven Bertolino, while they tried to shield their son from suspicion and even allow him to flee.
In June, a judge decided to move forward with the lawsuit against Christopher and Roberta. The Petito and Schmidt families are seeking over $100,000 in damages.
Brian Laundrie's parents visited Carlton Reserve when their son's remains were discovered in 2021.
Bertolino, issued a statement after the judge announced his decision, saying:
"Chris and Roberta Laundrie, and myself, are disappointed with Judge Carroll’s decision to deny the motion and allow this lawsuit to proceed. Judge Carroll points out that the September 14, 2021 statement, standing alone, does not suggest outrage, but within the context of the other allegations in the case, the plaintiffs have met the threshold to go forward to the next phase. The Laundries will continue to use all available legal means to preserve their rights."
Bertolino – who is no longer representing the Laundries – is not a defendant in the civil lawsuit because he is not a resident of Florida and operated out of his office in New York during the time of the search for Gabby.
Patrick Reilly, the lawyer for Gabby's family, said Bertolino released a false and misleading statement during the time when Gabby's parents still hoped she would be found alive.
A judge will decide whether to grant approval to the motion filed by the Laundries' attorney, Matthew Luka.
"To have a judge come in and limit the plaintiffs in what they're asking, is a big ask for the judge, and very rarely actually occurs," Rickman said.