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for 11 years, lived in Niagara Falls and had two children ages 11 and 13. Neither
parent had a lawyer at trial; however, a government lawyer was
appointed to represent the interests of their children.
A notable feature of the case was the level of hatred and animosity
between the parties and their witnesses, which included Mrs. Bruni’s new
common law partner, Sam, formerly the best friend and workmate of Mr.
Bruni, and Mr. Bruni’s new partner. The warring couples lived one kilometre
away from each other.
There were two central issues to be resolved. The first was whether the
separation agreement signed by the husband, without legal advice and
allegedly under duress, should be set aside.
The second involved a determination of whether Mrs. Bruni had poisoned
her 13-year-old daughter’s mind, causing irreversible parental alienation,
and if so, what was the appropriate remedy.
There are hundreds of cases each year in Canada that deal with the issues
in Bruni v. Bruni, but Mr. Justice Quinn’s decision attracted media attention
because of his novel approach to the gross immaturity displayed by the parties
and their penchant for retaliation, bordering on the criminal.
A few choice passages from the reasons illustrate Mr. Justice Quinn’s
— The judge begins his judgment with “Paging Dr. Freud. Paging Dr.
— The judge says the couple have been “marinating in a mutual
hatred so intense as to surely amount to a personality disorder
— In response to evidence that Catherine Bruni attempted to run
down her husband with her van, the judge remarked, “always a
telltale sign that a husband and wife are drifting apart”.
— The judge recounted testimony of repeated threats made by Mrs.
Bruni and her family that certain Hells Angels were ready and willing
to end Mr. Bruni’s life. The evidence revealed that one of the
threats involved the immersion of Mr. Bruni’s body into a local
canal. Judge Quinn commented on the introduction of a “nautical
theme” to the matter of death threats. He also referred to the wife
and her family as “one-dimensional problem solvers”.
— Judge Quinn opined that Mr. Bruni had an “infidelity gene”.
— After hearing that Larry Bruni had yelled “jackass, loser” from his
vehicle window to his wife’s new partner, Sam, Mr. Justice Quinn
said, “When the operator of a motor vehicle yells ‘jackass’ at a