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.
The statute of limitations begins to run upon a contract at the breach thereof, as soon as a right of action accrues.1 The important question then to determine in this connection is, when is a contract broken so that an action will lie thereon ? If a contract is antedated, as where bonds were dated when authorized but issued only when needed,2 limitations runs from the true date. In the absence of a special statute, limitations runs from the breach of a contract, and not from the time such breach is discovered.3 Thus limitations begins to run against an action for giving a defective abstract at the time such defective report is made; though party to whom such report is made, who buys land in reliance thereon, is not deprived of such land until a suit is brought after the period of limitations against the cause of action for giving the defective abstract has expired.4 So a right of action on a warranty given with the sale of a defective town warrant accrues when such warrant is sold, and not when its invalidity is subsequently discovered, there being no fraudulent concealment.5 If the damage occasioned by the breach of contract is not sustained until after the contract is broken, limitations begins to run from the date of the breach, and not from the time that damage is sustained.6 Thus an attorney agreed to collect a note for a client. He neglected to bring suit against a solvent indorser for over a year; and in bringing such suit finally, he committed a fatal misnomer of the plaintiff, for which a judgment against the indorser was reversed by the Supreme Court of the state. By that time the action against the indorser was barred by limitations. Suit was then brought by the holder of the note against the attorney for breach of his implied agreement to use due skill and diligence, one count alleging that no suit was brought until the note was barred and the other count alleging that the suit was defectively brought. It was held that limitations began to run against the first cause of action on failure to sue within a reasonable time after the note was received for collection, or at least after failure to collect from the maker, and against the second cause of action from the time that the blunder in pleading was made.7 So limitations runs against an innocent breach of trust from its date and not from discovery.8 Limitations begins to run against a domestic judgment from the date of its rendition, and not from the end of the period during which execution might issue.9
9 Pacific Elevator Co. v. Whitbeek,
63 Kan. 102; 88 Am. St. Rep. 229;
64 Pac. 984.
10 Berkin v. Marsh. 18 Mont. 152; 56 Am. St. Rep. 565; 44 Pac. 528. 1 Williams v. Bergin, 116 Cal. 56;
47 Pac. 877; Lattin v. Gillette, 95 Cal. 317; 29 Am. St. Rep. 115; 30 Pac. 545; Standard Sewing-Machine Co. v. Frame, 2 Penne. (Del.) 430;
48 Atl. 188; Hale v. Cushman. 96 Me. 148; 51 Atl. 874; Manning v. Perkins, 86 Me. 419; 29 Atl. 1114: Watson v. Heyn. 62 Neb. 191 ; 86 N. W. 1064: McLure v. Melton. 34
S. C. 377; 27 Am. St. Rep. 820; 13 L. R. A. 723; 13 S. E. 615; Cum-mings v. Stovall, 6 Lea (Tenn.) 679; Merchants' National Bank v. Spates, 41 W. Va. 27; 56 Am. St. Rep. 828; 23 S. E. 681.
2 Sechrist v. Irrigation District, 129 Cal. 640; 62 Pac. 261.
3 Ganser v. Ganser, 83 Minn. 199; 85 Am. St. Rep. 461; 86 N. W. 18.
4 Lattin v. Gillette. 95 Cal. 317; 29 Am. St. Rep. 115; 30 Pac. 545. See Russell v. Abstract Co.. 87 la. 233; 43 Am. St. Rep. 381; 54 N. W. 212.
5 Merchants' National Bank v. Spates, 41 W. Va. 27; 56 Am. St. Rep. 828; 23 S. E. 681.
6 Lattin v. Gillette, 95 Cal. 317; 29 Am. St. Rep. 115; 30 Pae. 545; Davis v. Brown, 98 Ky. 475; 32 S. W. 614; 36 S. W. 534; Manning v. Perkins, 86 Me. 419; 29 Atl. 1114; Everett v. O'Leary, 90 Minn. 154; 95 N. W. 901; Northern Assurance Co. v. Lorgelt, - Neb. -; 93 N. W. 226; McLure v. Melton, 34 S. C. 377; 27 Am. St. Rep. 820; 13 L. R. A. 723; 13 S. E. 615.
7 Wilcox v. Plummer, 4 Pet. (U. S.) 172.
8 Thorne v. Heard (1894), 1 Ch. 599.
9 Citizens' National Bank v. Lucas, 26 Wash. 417; 90 Am. St. Rep. 748; 56 L. R. A. 812; 67 Pac. 252. (This involves the doctrine that at Common Law the right of action on a judgment existed as soon as the judgment was rendered; and that execution is a cumulative statutory remedy.)