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 a contract is entered into by a public corporation in violation of some specific statute, the effect of such contract depends on the intent of the legislature in enacting such statute. If the proceedings are irregular but not in violation of a mandatory statute, recovery may be had on the contract after performance thereof,1 or on quantum meruit.2 Thus where a contract was held void because the title of the ordinance whereby it was formed did not show its true purpose, the city was liable for rental for fifteen hydrants used by it.3 On the other hand, if the contract is in violation of a mandatory statute, and is contrary to public policy, no recovery can be had either on the contract or on quantum meruit.4 The title to property delivered under an irregular bid passes to the public corporation, and such corporation cannot rescind and agree to treat the property as delivered under a second and valid bid.5
2 Monroe Waterworks Co. v. Monroe, 110 Wis. 11; 85 N. W. 685.
3 Ft. Dodge, etc., Co. v. Ft. Dodge, 115 Ia. 568; 89 N. W. 7.
4 Kansas City v. O'Connor, 82 Mo. App. 655.
5 Austin v. McCall, 95 Tex. 565; 67 S. W. 192; 68 S. W. 791.
6 Gamewell, etc., Co. v. Laporte, 102 Fed. 417; 42 C. C. A. 405.
1 Chapman v. Douglas County. 107 U. S. 348; Argenti v. San Francisco, 16 Cal. 255; National Tube Works v. Chamberlain, 5 Dak. 54; 37 N. W. 761; Sanitary District v. Mfg. Co., 179 111. 167; 104
53 N. E. 627; Mound City v. Snoddy, 53 Kan. 126; 35 Pac. 1112; State v. Moore, 46 Neb. 590; 50 Am. St. Rep. 626; 65 N. W. 193; State v. Long Branch, 59 N. J. L. 371; 35 Atl. 1070; Portland, etc.. Co. v. Portland, 18 Or. 21; 6 L. R. A. 290; 22 Pac. 536 (notice defective).
2 City of Ellsworth v. Rossiter, 46 Kan. 237; 26 Pac. 674; Carey v. East Saginaw. 79 Mich. 73; 44 N. W. 168; Lincoln Land Co. v. Grant. 57 Neb. 70; 77 N. W. 349; Kramrath v. Albany, 127 N. Y. 575; 28 N. E. 400.