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.
If, by a statute, certain duties and liabilities are imposed upon persons who voluntarily enter into contracts of certain kinds, such statutory duties and liabilities are regarded as contractual in character.1 The relation between a master and servant originates in contract; but if the promise of the master covers the same subject-matter as a duty imposed upon the master by law, the injured party may treat the breach of such duty as a breach of contract or as a tort at his election.2 If the local workmen's compensation act is voluntary, and if the parties may subject themselves to its operation or not, as they please, their act in subjecting themselves to its operation may be treated as contractual in its nature.3 While enlistment operates as a change of status, it is, nevertheless, a contract; and the state can not increase the obligations thereunder by a change of statute after such contract of enlistment has been entered into.4 It is generally held that the liability of a stockholder in a corporation to the creditors thereof, imposed by statute and resulting from his ownership of stock, is contractual in character.'
3 Critten v. Chemical National Bank, 171 N. Y. 219, 57 L. R. A. 529, 63 N. E. 969,
4 Lorick v. Palmetto National Bank, 76 S. Car. 500, 57 S. E. 527.
5 J. M. James Co. v. Continental National Bank, 105 Tenn. 1, 80 Am. St. Rep. 857, 51 L. R. A. 255, 58 S. W. 261.
1 Harty Bros. & Harty Co. v. Polakow, 237 111. 559, 86 N. E. 1085; State, ex rel., v. Long, 136 La. 1, L. R. A. 1915E, 235, 66 So. 377; Gooding v. Ott, 77 W. Va. 487, L. R. A. 1916D, 637, 87 S. E. 862.
2 Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis Ry. Co. v. Becker, 67 Ark. 1, 77 Am. St. Rep. 78, 46 L. R. A. 814, 53 S. W. 406.
3 Sexton v. Newark District Telegraph Co., 84 N. J. L. 85, 3 N. C. C. A. 569, 86 Atl. 451; American Radiator
Co. v. Rogge, 86 N. J. L. 436, 7 N. C. C. A. 144, 92 Atl. 85, 94 Atl. 85; Gooding v. Ott, 77 W. Va. 487, L. R. A. 1916D, 637, 87 S. E. 862.
This sort of liability has been called a "quasi-contract": American Radiator Co. v. Rogge, 86 N. J. L. 436, 7 N. C. C. A. 144, 92 Atl. 85, 94 Atl. 85.
4 State, ex rel., v. Long, 136 La. 1, L. R. A. 1915E, 235, 66 So. 377.
5 United States. Flash v. Conn, 109 U. S. 371, 27 L. ed. 966; Selig v. Hamilton, 234 U. S. 652, 58 L. ed. 1518.
Connecticut. Paine v. Stewart, 33 Conn. 516.
Illinois. Bell v. Farwell, 176 111. 489, 68 Am. St. Rep. 194, 42 L.R. A. 804, 52 N. E. 346.
Iowa. Johnson v. Morgan, 178 la. 577, 160 N. W. 2.
Kansas. Abbey v. Dry Goods Co., 44 Kan. 415, 24 Ac. 426; Pacific
83 Distinguished from Other Legal Concepts Sec. 67
If, by statute, the property owner, who has entered into a contract for improving his realty, is liable to the sub-contractors and to the materialmen jointly with the principal contractor, such statutory incident to the principal contract is itself contractual.6
A liability imposed by statute and not assumed by the voluntary agreement of the parties is not a contract at modern law, even if it is a liability on which the action of debt could have been maintained at common law.7 Whether a judgment is to be classed as a contract is subsequently discussed.8 While a conditional pardon is sometimes spoken of as a contract, it is a conditional grant and not a genuine contract.9