Tree-removal company forced to pay restitution, fines after Florence price-gouging suit

Tree-removal company forced to pay restitution, fines after Florence price-gouging suit

RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - A Wake County superior court judge has ordered a Lexington-based tree removal company to pay thousands of dollars in restitution and fines after accusations of price gouging in the Wilmington area following Hurricane Florence.

Alva Wilson Lewis, who does business under the names A1 Tree & Storm Relief, A1 Tree and Storm Damage Relief, and Big AL & Sons Tree Service, is required to pay $6,000 in restitution to consumers, $20,000 in fines, and is barred from conducting any tree removal or storm recovery work in North Carolina.

“This person took advantage of a homeowner cleaning up in the wake of Hurricane Florence,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “Price gouging is against the law, and my office will hold businesses and people accountable when they price gouge consumers.”

In September, Stein filed a lawsuit against Lewis after his employee initially provided an estimate of $4,000 to remove three trees for a Wilmington homeowner. The price then jumped to $7,000 and a final invoice charged the customer $12,000. The homeowner ultimately paid $6,000.

Stein said this is the third lawsuit his office has reached a judgement or settlement in involving price gouging related to Hurricanes Florence and Michael. In all, these suits have resulted in $240,006 in consumer restitution, $174,971 in money companies are barred from collecting from homeowners, and $20,000 in penalties.

Lewis’ company has no relation to A-1 Tree Service, LLC out of Hampstead.

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