John Costanzo was an attorney for General Motors during the Corvair affair.
“I understand that Frank Winchell retired from General Motors Corporation, after many years of distinguished service.
I have been asked, as one who is indirectly connected with General Motors, to comment upon my observations of Frank during the course of his career.
I, as a lawyer, first met Frank back in 1964, when we were involved in some litigation involving the Corvair automobile.
After a careful and absolute screening during which time Frank made sure I had no concealed weapons, tape recorders, or other evidence of the despicable character of most lawyers, Frank finally consented to talk with me.
During the course of our discussions it became apparent that Frank had a unique disregard for lawyers.
I wish to dispel one rumor right now. Frank does not hate all lawyers. He only hates those lawyers who are on his side. The rest of the lawyers he despises.
In any event, during one of the first Corvair lawsuits that was tried, I recall that I was called upon to represent the dealer while another gentleman, now-deceased, represented General Motors. During the course of our discussions, before and during trial, Frank consented to act as a witness and reluctantly agreed that he would testify provided that the lawyer who was going to put him on the stand, representing General Motors, did not ask him a certain question.
When he was finally put on the witness stand, I believe the first or second question that was asked by the lawyer, after qualifying Frank, was the very question that Frank asked not to be asked. Observing the blood rising up to the level of his eyebrows I, as co-counsel for the co-defendant, objected to the question, and Frank objected to my objecting to the question, because he wanted to kill the General Motors lawyer. Now, in most states killing lawyers is considered justifiable homicide; however, most judges frown upon the practice in their Court rooms because of the risks involved from ricochet bullets and the high cost of cleaning blood stained judicial robes; therefore, the judge sustained the objection, mollified Frank, who then proceeded to win the lawsuit.
I’m not being modest when I say that Frank won the lawsuit. After almost 30 years in this business of trying lawsuits before juries, I am convinced that good witnesses win lawsuits and lawyers lose them by not selecting and giving witnesses the material to expound and explain to the jury.
Frank Winchell has the unique ability to put across esoteric engineering concepts into terms that jurors and, sometimes, even lawyers and judges can understand. He doesn’t call a spade a spade, he calls it a f***ing shovel. This, no doubt, stems from his career at a trade school “Perdoo,” where rumor has it he obtained a football scholarship as a substitute waterboy. I know that rumor to be scurrilous and even defamatory. His football scholarship was attained because of two unique talents that he then possessed. He, alone, among the “Perdoo” talent could tie a bowknot and thus assisted the remainder of the team to be shod. The other talent is one that should be recognized by anyone within an area of 3 to 3.7 miles of the Tech Center when Frank is mildly displeased and puts out a call the miscreant among his crew; he has unique lung power and in those days at “Perdoo” there were no tire pumps as they are now known, and someone had to inflate the footballs by sheer lung power. That was the particular talent that makes Frank so valuable to the team.
I am more than proud to able to consider myself a friend of Frank Winchell. He is a man that I would be proud to have my sons and grandsons copy in their lives. I hope that he stays around for a long, long time because, to my mind, General Motors, and the entire automobile industry can have not finer representative than my friend, Frank Winchell.”