Per regional outlet WWSB, Sarasota County Circuit Court Judge denied a motion on Thursday by Christopher and Roberta Laundrie to have the civil suit dismissed. When addressing details of the suit, which was originally filed by Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt in March, Carroll pointed to a statement by the Laundrie family’s attorney amid last year’s initial search for Gabby.
“If the facts of this case truly were about silence with no affirmative act by the Laundries, the Court would have resolved this case in the Laundries’ favor on the concept of legal duty, or more precisely, the lack of any legal duty for the Laundries to act,” Carroll wrote in the ruling, available to read in full here via Law & Crime. “Had the Laundries truly stayed silent, the Court would have granted the motion to dismiss in the Laundries’ favor.”
The suit sees Petito’s parents suing Laundrie’s parents for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that Laundrie’s parents were aware Gabby was dead. Furthermore, they are alleged in the suit to have known the location of her body, which was ultimately reported to have been found in September of last year.
In January, the FBI announced that Laundrie—who later died by suicide—had confessed to killing Petito. A coroner had said weeks prior that Petito died of causes including strangulation and blunt-force injuries. As the case became a mainstay in headlines last year, it also highlighted the persistence of what’s often referred to as missing white woman syndrome.