North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
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Attorney General Josh Stein Takes Legal Action Against Tree Service for Alleged Wilmington-Area Price Gouging

Release date: 4/11/2019

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today filed a lawsuit against Canary Tree Service, a Jacksonville, Florida-based tree removal company, and its owner Justin Hartmann, alleging that they price gouged Wilmington-area homeowners after Hurricane Florence. Attorney General Stein will be in Wilmington today and is available for media interviews about this complaint. Following a speech at the New Hanover Senior Center (2222 South College Rd.) that will conclude at 10:35 a.m., the Attorney General will answer media questions.
“My office will not allow price gouging to go unchecked,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “These out-of-state operators took advantage of homeowners rebuilding after Hurricane Florence. That’s against the law, and my office will hold them accountable.”
The complaint alleges price gouging incidents involving four Wilmington-area homeowners who were charged excessive amounts for tree removal work, and a fifth homeowner who was offered an inflated quote for a job. Two homeowners were charged $9,500 for 14 hours of work, which is approximately $679 per hour. Another homeowner was charged $4,500 for six hours of work, which is $750 per hour. A fourth homeowner was charged $14,000 for 30 hours of work, or $467 per hour, though another company estimated that work to cost approximately $2,400. A fifth homeowner was quoted $750 for removing a small tree, work that was ultimately completed in less than an hour by a neighbor.
Additionally, none of the consumers were provided written notice of their three-day right to cancel, a requirement under North Carolina law. Attorney General Stein is seeking temporary, preliminary, and permanent injunctive relief against the defendants, along with restitution for victims, civil penalties, attorney fees, and other relief.
This is the seventh price gouging lawsuit Attorney General Stein has filed after Hurricanes Florence and Michael hit North Carolina in 2018. He has already reached settlements with seven defendants involved in in two lawsuits, totaling $234,006 in restitution and $154,971 in money companies are barred from collecting from homeowners.  
A copy of the complaint can be found here.

Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484