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AG Nessel Sues to Dissolve Detroit-Area Landscaping and Snow Removal Companies, Alleging Illegal Business Practice

LANSING – Last week, a lawsuit from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to dissolve several Limited Liability Companies was served upon John and Michele Church. The lawsuit, filed in the 6th Circuit Court in Oakland County, seeks injunctive relief including prohibiting the two from incorporating, operating, or working for any business offering snow removal, lawn care, or landscaping services. The Attorney General claims in the lawsuit that the Churches and their business entities repeatedly and knowingly violated the Michigan Consumer Protection Act (MCPA) and a previously established Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) reached to settle previous consumer claims mediated by the Department of Attorney General (DAG).  

John and Michele Church own and operate the several incorporated business entities Metro Mow ‘N Snow, LLC, The Snow Guys, Inc, and John Church’s Snow Service, Inc. The pair also operate the several non-incorporated business entities Farmington Mow N Snow, Snow Guy Enterprises, Titan Seasonal Services, Friendly Neighborhood Lawn Service, Friendly Lawn Care, Friendly Lawn & Snow, Lawn & Snow King, Greenkeepers Lawn & Landscape, North Star, BlueJay Outdoor Services, and Mike’s Best. 

The Churches and their businesses have offered residential snow removal, lawn care, and landscaping services in the Detroit area for over two decades. The DAG has received more than 200 consumer complaints pertaining to these businesses dating back to 2010 alleging unlawful business practices. A formal investigation was initiated in 2017 that resulted in an AVC, filed in 2018, whereby the Churches agreed to cease unfair or deceptive business practices, to not create any new same-service entities without notifying the DAG, to pay a $15,000 fine, to compensate any affected customers, and to compensate the DAG for investigative costs. As the DAG states in this latest lawsuit, “the Church defendants resumed abusing their customers and violating the MCPA almost immediately.” 

Complaints resumed to both the DAG and the Better Business Bureau, citing alleged conduct that violates both the AVC and the MCPA. The lawsuit claims civil violations including breach of contract, continuing to engage in unfair and deceptive business practices, failing to fulfill refund requests, grossly misrepresenting the scope and quality of work being offered, and misleading consumers as to their legal rights to post and publish honest reviews of, and file complaints about, the services and conduct of the defendants.  

The Federal Consumer Review Fairness Act ensures the legal right of consumers to publish and post reviews of goods and services provided by businesses. The Attorney General’s lawsuit alleges that various iterations of the contracts the Churches' businesses required customers to sign included a non-disparagement clause that served to confuse consumers about their rights to take action, to caution other consumers, or to complain to regulatory agencies, such as the Department of Attorney General, if such complaints and reviews could harm the reputation of the business entity. As alleged, this would constitute an illegal violation of the MCPA. 

“Michigan consumers have the right to freely, fairly, and publicly post reviews of goods and services they’ve purchased,” said Nessel. “Businesses in this state cannot insulate themselves from honest customer reviews by simply inserting deceptive language into their contracts. Illegal and unfair business practices will not be tolerated, and often the best way to stop these harms is to speak up; to tell your community and other potential customers how you have been treated. My department remains committed to defending consumers and their rights, and we will continue our vigorous advocacy for their protections under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.” 

The Attorney General seeks as relief injunctions against the Churches and their several businesses, prohibiting them from operating in the snow removal, lawn care, and landscaping sector, immediate fulfillment or refunds pertaining to outstanding consumer contracts, treble money damages to select and similarly situated customers, entrance of an order declaring defendants unlawfully violated the MCPA, civil fines for knowing and repeated violation of the MCPA, entrance of an order striking non-disparagement clauses in any contracts held between defendants and consumers, an award of investigative and litigation costs incurred by the DAG, and the dissolution of Metro Mow ‘N Snow, LLC and all LLCs owned and operated by the Churches related to snow removal, lawn care, and landscaping.

Michigan consumers who suspect they are the victims of illegal or predatory business practices are encouraged to contact the Department of Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Team.  

Consumer Protection Team
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Fax: 517-241-3771
Toll-free: 877-765-8388
Online complaint form


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