A Sarasota judge denied a protective order filed by Brian Laundrie's parents to limit the questions they could be asked about their son during depositions in the negligence case against them.
During his decision Tuesday, 12th Circuit Court Judge Hunter W. Carroll said the proposed limitations were overly narrow and would preclude necessary information gathering.
Christopher and Roberta Laundrie filed the protective order on Oct. 27, which if it had been granted, would have limited the questions they could be asked during discovery to a time frame of 24 days.
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The time period would be from Aug. 27, 2021, through Sept. 19, 2021, or rather the time between Gabby Petito's death and when her body was found in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
The order also limited the scope to information related to any outward actions or comments made by the Laundries during that time, according to the motion.
The purpose of the protective order, as stated in court documents, was to shield the Laundries from having to answer questions regarding their son's history and last days, and the family's own personal experiences and grief during that time.
"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," the motion for the protective order argues.
The order would not have interfered with inquiries into the Sept. 14, 2021, statement made by the Laundries' attorney during the course of the investigation into the whereabouts of Petito, the document states.
Matt Luka, attorney for the Laundries, said in court Tuesday that the protective order was to establish guardrails and to spare his clients' further emotional distress. He said there is no reason to scrutinize the entire timeline of Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie's relationship.
Joseph Petito and Nicole Schmidt, Petito's parents, in their response argued the protective order would prevent them from asking questions regarding the relationships between their daughter, Brian Laundrie and Laundrie's parents.
They'd also be prevented from asking about their own relationship with the Laundries and ascertaining basic background information that is usually gathered like birthdates or educational background.
Patrick Reilly, attorney for Petito's parents, said in court that there was no good cause shown to grant the Laundries' the protective order and that the case is about his clients' emotional distress caused by the Laundries' actions.
Christopher and Roberta Laundrie were scheduled to have their depositions done on Oct. 20, 2022, according to court documents, but both were cancelled the day before. A deposition is the process where people give sworn statements or evidence pertaining to the case.
Seven days after they were scheduled for their depositions, they filed the motion for the protective order.
The response also states that since the Laundries have not been questioned yet, it's "impossible for this court to determine whether any of the questions to be posed would not be reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence."
Gabriela Szymanowska covers the legal system for the Herald-Tribune in partnership with Report for America. You can support her work with a tax-deductible donation to Report for America. Contact Gabriela Szymanowska at email@example.com, or on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Brian Laundrie's parents protective order denied by Sarasota judge