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 and B attempt to make a contract, and by reason of some mistake in the formation no contract is made, A, who has performed work and labor under such supposed contract,1 may recover a reasonable compensation therefor. Thus A cut timber on B's land and made it into lumber, believing that he had a special contract with B for payment therefor. In fact, owing to a mutual misunderstanding as to the time when payment was to be made there really was no contract between A and B. It was held that A could recover a reasonable compensation for his services.2 A superintended the construction of a building for
41 O'Brien v. New York, 139 N. Y. 543; 35 N. E. 323.
42 O'Brien v. New York, 139 N. Y. 543; 35 N. E. 323.
43 0'Keefe v. Church, 59 Conn. 551; 22 Atl. 325; Stewart v. Cambridge, 125 Mass. 102; Ashley v. Henahan, 56 O. S. 559; 47 N. E. 573; Vanderwerker v. R. R., 27 Vt. 130.
44 Perry v. Potashinski, 169 Mass. 351; 47 N. E. 1022.
1 Collins v. Stove Co., 63 Conn. 356; 28 Atl. 534; Rowland v. R. R., 61 Conn. 103; 29 Am. St. Rep. 175; 23 Atl. 755; Russell v. Clough, 71 N. H. 177; 93 Am. St. Rep. 507; 51 Atl. 632: Burton v. Mfg. Co., 132 N. C. 17; 43 S. E.480.
2 Russell v. Clough, 71 N. H. 177;
B, believing that he was working under a special contract. In fact by mistake as to an essential fact there was no meeting of the mind. An instruction to the jury that under such facts, A could recover a reasonable compensation for his services was held proper.3