Velma O'Neal of Silver Spring went to work for Marriott Corp. in 1954. She left the firm in 1975 with $8,638 in a profit-sharing and retirement account, $2,273 of which came from her own earnings.
But Mrs. O'Neal has charged in a lawsuit that in 1972 she had been given a statement listing the value of her shares in the fund at $17,764. She said in the lawsuit that Marriott's profit-sharing plan lost almost $24 million from 1973 to 1975 because too many of the plan's assets were invested in Mariott Corp. stock.
Mrs. O'Neal's lawyer, Sanley R. Jacobs, said in the suit that his client is seeking compensatory and punitive damages to be determined later, an injunction against further investment of the fund's assets and a court-appointed trustee to "preserve" the assets.
The suit alleges that Marriott made false statements about the fund's shares in order to induce employees to remain with the firm.
Responding to the O'Neal allegations, Marriott said that, while the market value of Marriott stock was about 50 per cent of the profit-sharing fund's total assets in 1972, that represented 19 per cent of the total cost of assets. The stock was selling near a high of $40 a share at that time and, to a large extent, "the growth in the fund was due to the growth in Marriott stock," the firm stated.
Marriott said it regretted the decline in value of Marriott stock, "but it's no secret that there have been substantial declines in the overall stock market - and in many other high-quality corporate profit-sharing funds that have a large portion of their assets in common stocks . . . the profit-sharing trustees intend to vigorously defend agains the action."