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Skordas: The second Petito family lawsuit may be about punishment

May 9, 2022, 11:58 AM | Updated: 12:03 pm
Petito lawsuit...
Gabby Petito's mom, Nichole Schmidt. Photo credit: Paradise Afshar/CNN.

Gabby Petito, credit CNN, Paradise Afshar

The mother of Gabby Petito has filed a second lawsuit related to the death of her 22-year-old daughter.  Police said that Petito was killed by her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, while on a cross-country trip two years ago. Laundrie reportedly confessed to the murder in a notebook found after he took his own life.

The family’s first lawsuit was filed against the parents of Brian Laundrie. This suit is against the estate of Brian Laundrie. It brings up a lot of questions for KSL At Night host and defense attorney Greg Skordas, starting with, can parents be liable for the crimes of their children?

Parents and the crimes of their children

“The short answer to that is yes,” Skordas told KSL NewsRadio. “But this is going to be a very, very difficult case because it will be hard for the Petito family to say that the parents had culpability in their daughter’s death.”

Skordas said that the Laundries may have had culpability in hiding their son after the fact or obstructing justice. But if they didn’t do anything to actually contribute to Gabby Petito’s death, it will be hard to prove in a lawsuit that they are legally responsible for depriving the Petitos of their daughter’s companionship.

What does it mean to sue someone’s estate? “What they’re saying in suing the estate is that Brian Laundrie is ultimately responsible,” Skordas said, “and his estate, it may not have much, but his estate would be what’s leftover from his life insurance and anything he owned.

“His parents are really the deep pocket if there is a deep pocket here.”

“You just can’t do what these people did.”

The Petito lawsuit itself doesn’t ask for a specific monetary amount. “At some point they will have to articulate a monetary amount,” Skordas said, “but I think they’re just trying to get these people’s attention and get law enforcement’s attention, and even just the public’s attention, and say ‘You can’t just do what these people did here. You can’t hide your son out after such a horrible act.’

“They may just be wanting to make a statement here. Sometimes lawsuits are all about that,” Skordas said.

The lawsuit may very well be about trying to punish the Laundrie family, Skordas said. “It will cost the Laundrie family a lot of money and time and resources and embarrassment, and maybe that’s what the Petito family is looking for here.”

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Skordas: The second Petito family lawsuit may be about punishment