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AG Nessel Sues Tree Service Companies for Price Gouging, Other Consumer Protection Act Violations Following Severe Weather

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a lawsuit (PDF) against a group of tree service companies alleging they deceived consumers seeking storm clean-up services. The suit, filed in the 30th Judicial Circuit Court in Ingham County, alleges Canary Date Sculpting, Inc. (which does business as Canary Tree Service), a Florida-based company, led a group of storm chasing tree service companies that violated the Michigan Consumer Protection Act (MCPA) while performing work for Oakland and Washtenaw County residents during the summer of 2021, and for a resident in Gaylord following the May 2022 tornado.  Following the 2022 Gaylord tornado, the Attorney General initiated an investigation into potential incidents of consumer exploitation and MCPA violations that sometimes follow severe weather emergencies. This lawsuit follows that investigation.  

According to the lawsuit, Canary Tree Service and its owner, Justin Hartmann, recruited Mississippi-based Garrison McKinney Tree and Bridge Service, LLC, Kentucky-based E & B Contracting, and Holtslander and Sons Tree Service, LLC, a Michigan-based company, to perform storm clean-up work in 2021 and 2022. The suit alleges these companies misled consumers about the nature of the agreements they were signing, the cost of the services, potential financial responsibility for costs not covered by insurance, and their legal rights and obligations. The Department also accuses Canary of price gouging consumers affected by severe weather, which increased the demand for tree-trimming services, throughout 2021 and 2022. 

“After major storms, bad actors take advantage of vulnerable residents desperate to repair damage to their homes and clean up debris,” Nessel said. “My office will not tolerate businesses that exploit consumers with deceptive tactics and will continue to investigate and pursue predatory companies to the fullest extent of the law.” 

The Attorney General advises consumers impacted by storm damage to request a written quote or estimate for any work, even if they expect their insurance to cover the costs. Nessel also urges consumers to read all the fine print of any contract they intend to sign. If consumers are signing an electronic contract and can not read the small text of the agreement on the screen, they should request a printed copy.  

To file a complaint with the Attorney General, or get additional information, contact:  

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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