This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
7 McKee v. Western Union Teleg. Co., 158 Ky. 143, 51 L. R. A. (N.S.) 439, 164 S. W. 348.
8 Strong v. Western Union Tefeg. Co., 18 Ida. 389, 409, 30 L. R. A. (N.S.) 409, 109 Ac. 910.
9 Postal Telegraph-Cable Co. v. Schae-fer, 110 Ky. 907, 23 Ky. Law Rep. 344, 02 S. W. 1119.
10 Niagara Fire Extinguisher Co. v. Dayton Folding Box Co., 13 Ohio C. C. (N.S.) 301, 22 Ohio C. D. 631.
11 Germain Fruit Co. v. Western such mistake is given in some jurisdictions.1 If A agrees with B to buy the "stable 1801 Lovegrove Alley," and A inspected the stable at 1805 Lovegrove Alley, thinking that it was the stable which he was buying, and A was not guilty of negligence in making such mistake, the number being missing from one stable and not readily legible upon the other, B can not have specific performance.2 If A, who is of foreign birth and unable to read English, agrees to buy an apartment house which is described in the contract as having a marble entrance and stairs, and the vendor's agent has pointed out the apartment house which is actually owned by the vendor and the street number of which is correctly described in the contract, but A understands that the apartment house next door is pointed out, which in fact has a marble entrance and stairs, such mistake as to the identity of the apartment house would authorize a rescission of such sale in equity, even after the deed has been delivered and accepted, the mistake not having been discovered until after such delivery of the deed.3 A agreed to sell to a railway company two lots of land described by reference to a plat. The plat did not contain all of the property which A owned in that locality; but the agent of the railway company thought that it did, and for that reason he bought these lots, thinking that they adjoined a tract of land belonging to the railway company, upon which a railway was located; while, in fact, there was an intervening tract. Because of such mistake A can not have specific performance as against the railway company.4 "Where A offered to sell B a lot, and X, a stranger to the contract, pointed out the wrong piece of land, and B accepted A's offer under such mistaken impression, no contract existed.5 If A offers to sell a certain lot to B, and B attempts to examine such lot but by mistake examines the held that A could not avoid such contract.2 A sent to B a list of machinery, tools, etc., which he wished to purchase, and B replied that the equipment would "total approximately" five thousand dollars. A inquired what "approximately" meant and was told that there might be a difference of four or five dollars, depending upon the size of certain pulleys which were ordered. B's agent had made a mistake in addition, having failed to carry a figure from one column to another, and the price of the different items, if added correctly, would have been six thousand dollars. The mistake was not discovered until after part of the goods had been delivered. B brought action to recover the balance of the contract price which he had intended to offer. It was held that such contract was valid and that B could not recover.3 A made a mistake in adding a column of figures, and accordingly made a bid for fourteen hundred dollars when he intended to make the bid for eighteen hundred dollars. Such bid was accepted without knowledge of such mistake. It was held that such mistake did not amount to a defense at law, nor did it give to A a right to have a cancellation in equity.4 If A has an opportunity to examine the plains and specifications, and by a mistake as to the amount of work or material called for by such plans, A offers to do the work at a certain price, such offer becomes a valid contract when accepted by the adversary party without knowledge of such mistake.5 The rules apply where the offeror attempts to avoid the contract at law,6 and where he seeks rescission in equity.7
Union Telegraph Co., 137 Cal. 598, 59 L. R. A. 575, 70 Ac. 658. See Sec. 280.
12 Watson v. Paschall, 93 S. Car. 537, 77 S. E. 291. (In a former decision in the absence of all extrinsic evidence it was held that the change of word from "accepted" to "accept" could not change the meaning of the telegram as it could refer to but one offer: Watson v. Paschall, 83 S. Car. 366. 65 S. E. 337).
13 Postal Telegraph Co. v. Willie, 98 Miss. 540, 47 So. 380.
1 California. Goodrich v. Lathrop, 94 Cal. 56, 28 Am. St. Rep. 91, 29 Ac. 329.
Colorado. Beck v. School1 District, 54 Colo. 546, 46 L. R. A, (N.S.) 279, 131 Ac. 398.
Illinois. Bivins v. Kerr, 268 111. 164, 108 N. E. 996.
Kentucky. Louisville Ry. Co. v. Kellner-Dehler Realty Co.. 148 Ky. 765, 147 S. W. 424.
Maryland. Diffenderffer v. Knoche, 118 Md. 189, 84 Atl. 416.
Massachusetts. Dzuris v. Pierce, 216 Mass. 132, 103 N. E. 296.
Minnesota. Strong v. Lane, 66 Minn. 94, 68 N. W. 765.
2 Diffenderffer v. Knoche, 118 Md. 189, 84 Atl. 416.
3 Dzuris v. Pierce, 216 Mass. 132, 103 N. E. 296.
4 Louisville Ry. Co. v. Kellner-Dehler Realty Co., 148 Ky. 765, 147 S. W. 424.
5 Strong v. Lane, 66 Minn. 94, 68 N. W. 765. But see McKinnon v. Voll mar, 75 Wis. 82, 17 Am. St. Rep. 178, 6 L. R. A. 121, 43 N. W. 800, where it was held that B could not take advantwrong lot, and B thereupon enters into a contract for the purchase of such lot, believing it to be the lot which B had examined, equity will give relief by reason of such mistake, although a deed has been delivered and the purchase price has been paid.6 If A, who owns two tracts of land, intends to sell one of them, and in his offer he refers to such tract by the name by which it is generally known, and B, a purchaser, thinks that such name includes both tracts and intends to buy both, the purchaser may have rescission of a deed which describes the land so as to include both tracts.7 If A is constructing a building for B and another one for C, and by mistake in his accounts he has credited upon B's account a payment which is made by C and B, states to A the amount due is approximately the amount which A, by reason of such mistake, believes to be due, a contract of compromise which is entered into under such mistake may be set aside.8
In other jurisdictions no relief is given for such mistake.9 If A releases his interest in the estate of his wife B, thinking that B had inherited only from her mother, while in fact she had inherited from her father as well, no mistake is said to exist.10