Release date: 3/13/2019
(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today announced a $274,000 settlement with Georgia Tree Company LLC to resolve a price gouging lawsuit for excessively-priced tree removal work done after Hurricane Florence. Today’s settlement is one of the largest price gouging settlements by the North Carolina Department of Justice, and will provide full restitution to 23 North Carolina homeowners for which the Georgia-based tree removal service company did work. The agreement also prohibits the company from collecting payment from two other consumers and from doing further tree work in North Carolina.
“This out-of-state operator took advantage of people recovering from a devastating hurricane, which is immoral and illegal,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “My office will not abide price gouging, and I’m pleased that everyone who was scammed by this company will receive full restitution.”
In January, Attorney General Stein filed a lawsuit against Georgia Tree Company and its employees Vernon Kyle Rowe and Stuart Campbell Jr. The Complaint alleged that Campbell told an Onslow County homeowner that the company could not quote an upfront price to remove three fallen trees and a fourth leaning against an external building. Even so, the company sent the homeowner’s insurance company a supposed “agreement” with a price of $19,598.22, without permission from or discussion with the homeowner. At that amount, the price of the work averaged out to approximately $580 per man-hour. The lawsuit also alleged that the company used illegal debt collection practices to try to collect on the excessive invoice.
In its investigation, the North Carolina Department of Justice learned that 24 other North Carolinians had been victims of Georgia Tree Company’s business practices while North Carolina’s price gouging law was in effect after Hurricane Florence. These are the fifth, sixth, and seventh defendants the Attorney General’s office has settled with in price gouging lawsuits related to Hurricanes Florence and Matthew. The office has five additional price gouging cases pending against 13 defendants.
A copy of the consent judgement can be found here.
More on Attorney General Stein’s work to hold price gougers accountable:
- Attorney General Josh Stein Gets Interim Relief Against Hurricane Michael Price Gouger
- Attorney General Josh Stein Takes Alleged Price Gouger to Court
- Attorney General Josh Stein Gets Temporary Restraining Orders Against Two Out-of-State Price Gougers
- Attorney General Josh Stein Gets Interim Relief Against Hurricane Florence Price Gouger
- Attorney General Josh Stein Gets Preliminary Injunctions Against Hurricane Florence Price Gougers
- Attorney General Josh Stein Takes Legal Action Against Hurricane Florence Price Gougers
- Attorney General Josh Stein Gets Temporary Restraining Order Against Alleged Price Gouger
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484