The owner of a Lexington, N.C.-based tree removal business will pay $20,000 in fines and $6,000 in restitution after the North Carolina Attorney General said he overcharged customers after Hurricane Florence.
Attorney General Josh Stein was granted a default judgment in a price gouging lawsuit against Alva Wilson Lewis, who owns A1 Tree & Storm Relief, which also goes by the alternate names of A1 Tree and Storm Damage Relief, and Big Al & Sons Tree Service.
Stein filed a lawsuit against Lewis in late September after Lewis’ employee told a Wilmington homeowner it would cost $4,000 to remove trees knocked down during Florence.
Stein said that estimate went up to $7,000 and the final invoice was $12,000.
The homeowner paid $6,000 for the service.
“This person took advantage of a homeowner cleaning up in the wake of Hurricane Florence,” said Stein. “Price gouging is against the law, and my office will hold businesses and people accountable when they price gouge consumers.”
Aside from paying fines and restitution, Lewis is barred from conducting any tree removal or storm recovery work in North Carolina
Stein’s office said this is the third price gouging lawsuit the attorney general has reached a judgment or settlement in related to Hurricanes Florence and Michael.