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American Tree Company

American Tree Company

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Published by Casey Seiler
Attorney's affirmation from state AG's office
Attorney's affirmation from state AG's office

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Published by: Casey Seiler on Dec 13, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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1SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORKCOUNTY OF ALBANY--------------------------------------------------------------------------------XTHE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, byERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN, Attorney General of the State of New York,
 Petitioner,Index No.-against- RJI No.Hon.AMERICAN TREE COMPANY, a/k/a AMERICAN TREECOMPANY, INC., JOHN STRANAHAN, individually, as anofficer of, and doing business as AMERICANTREE COMPANY, INC., DANIEL T. STRANAHAN,individually, as an officer of, and doing business as AMERICANTREE COMPANY, INC., and MERWIN "SKIP" STRANAHANindividually and doing business as "AMERICAN TREECOMPANY, INC.,"Respondents.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------XCHRISTOPHER STASZAK, an attorney duly admitted to practice in the courts of theState of New York, affirms the following statements to be true under the penalties of perjury.1. I am an Assistant Attorney General in the office of Eric T. Schneiderman,Attorney General of the State of New York, assigned to the Bureau of Consumer Frauds andProtection.2. I am familiar with the facts and circumstances of this proceeding and submit thisaffirmation in support of Petitioner's application for an Order and Judgment, inter alia,permanently enjoining Respondents from engaging in deceptive, fraudulent and illegal businesspractices, and awarding restitution to injured consumers, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, andpenalties and costs to the State of New York.
23. The facts set forth in this affirmation are based upon information contained in thefiles of the Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection and are believed to be true and correct.
4. Respondent American Tree Company, Inc., ("American Tree") is a family ownedand operated tree service and home improvement contracting business, headquartered at 663State Route 149, Lake George, New York, 12845, which offers a variety of services, includingtree removal, logging, lot clearing and excavation. According to its website, which identifies thebusiness name as "American Tree Company, Inc.," American Tree services the Lake George,Glens Falls, Queensbury, Saratoga and Adirondack Regions of New York State. AlthoughAmerican Tree was established as a domestic business corporation on March 21, 2003, thecorporation was dissolved by proclamation of the New York Secretary of State on April 25,2012. Since that time, the named individual Respondents have continued to conduct businessunder the name American Tree Company, Inc.5. Respondent Daniel Stranahan is an owner and President of American Tree.Respondent John Stranahan is an owner and Vice-President of American Tree. RespondentMerwin "Skip" Stranahan is, upon information and belief, an owner of American Tree. Each of the Stranahans is actively involved in the day to day operations of the business and activelyparticipated in and has knowledge of the fraudulent and illegal practices alleged herein.6. Respondents American Tree, Daniel Stranahan, John Stranahan and Merwin"Skip" Stranahan are hereinafter collectively referred to as "Respondents."
7. In late August 2011, Tropical Storm Irene hit the northeast United States, causingsevere damage, including in Essex and Warren counties. The storm's high winds and heavy rainscaused significant tree damage, leaving many consumers with uprooted trees on their homes orstrewn across their property, and in many cases, creating an urgent need for tree removalservices. American Tree seized on the leverage it enjoyed as a result of the storm to takeadvantage of consumers by actively soliciting consumers for its services and chargingconsumers unconscionably excessive fees. Respondents also used unconscionable and deceptivepractices to induce consumers to accept their services. They repeatedly failed to disclose, orgave consumers lowball estimates of, the fees they would charge for their services, or assuredconsumers that their insurance policies would cover their fees, even though that was not alwaysthe case. Respondents also failed to provide consumers with written contracts specifying theamounts they would charge for their work, as required by law. Respondents then chargedconsumers exponentially more for their services than they charged immediately before the stormfor similar work and padded consumers' bills with undisclosed $1,500 "emergency" call fees and$1,000 "after hours" fees even though consumers had not called Respondents or asked for thework to be performed at a particular time.8. As a result of these practices, Respondents repeatedly charged consumersamounts for storm-related services that exceeded by thousands of dollars the amounts chargedfor similar work before the storm. In addition, Respondents padded their bills with undisclosedand exorbitant "emergency tree service call" and "after hours" fees, which, in some cases,exceeded the amount charged for the actual work performed. In many cases, these fees werecharged even though consumers had not called Respondents to request their services or request

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