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.
1 Joy v. St. Louis, 138 U. S. 1, 34 L. ed. 843; Knoxville Water Co. v. Knoxville, 200 U. S. 22, 50 L. ed. 353; Jetton v. University of the South, 208 U. S. 489, 52 L. ed. 584 [reversing, Jetton v. University of the South, 155 Fed. 182]; Darling v. Newport News, 123 Va. 14, 3 A. L. R. 748, 06 S. E. 307.
2 Rochester Railway Co. v. Rochester, 205 U. S. 236, 51 L. ed. 784; Jetton v. University of the South, 208 U. S. 489, 52 L. ed. 584 [reversing, Jetton v. University of the South, 155 Fed. 182]; State, ex rel., v. Water Supply Co., 19 N. M. 36, L. R. A. 1915A, 246, 140 Pac. 1059.
3 Jetton v. University of the South, 208 U. S. 489, 52 L. ed. 584 [reversing, Jetton v. University of the South, 155 Fed. 182].
4 Knoxville Water Co. v. Knoxville, 200 U. S. 22, 50 L. ed. 353; State, ex rel., v. Water Supply Co., 19 N. M. 36, L. R. A. 1915A, 246, 140 Pac. 1059.
See also, Darling v. Newport News, 123 Va. 14, 3 A. L. R. 748, 96 S. E. 307.
1 United States. Calvo v. De Gutierrez, 208 U. S. 443, 52 L. ed. 564; Mc-Elroy v. Swope, 47 Fed. 380; Ingersoll v. Coran, 127 Fed. 418; Manson v. Dayton, 153 Fed. 258, 82 C. C. A. 588; Christian v. First National Bank, 155
Fed. 705, 84 C. C. A. 53; Leschen & Sons Rope Co. v. Mayflower Gold Min. & R. Co., 173 Fed. 855, 97 C. C. A. 465, 35 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1; Cole Motor Car Co. v. Hurst, 228 Fed. 280, 142 C. C. A. 572.
Alabama. Little Cahaba Coal Co. v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., 192 Ala. 42, 68 So. 317.
Arkansas. Mississippi Home Insurance Co. v. Adams, 84 Ark. 431, 106 S. W. 209.
California. Stein v. Archibald, 151 Cal. 220, 90 Pac. 536; Stoddart v. Golden, - Cal. - , 3 A. L. R. 1060, 178 Pac. 707.
Colorado. Wyatt v. Irrigation Co., 18 Colo. 298, 36 Am. St. Rep. 280, 33 Pac. 144; Chicago, B. & Q. R. Co. v. Provolt, 42 Colo. 103, 93 Pac 1126.
Connecticut. MacDonald v. Aetna Indemnity Co., 90 Conn. 226, 96 Atl. 926.
Florida. Jacobs v. Parodi, 50 Fla. 541, 39 So. 833.
Illinois. Bartlett v. Wheeler, 195 111. 445, 63 N. E. 169 [affirming, 96 111. App. 342]; R. F. Conway Co. v. Chicago, 274 111. 369, 113 N. E. 703.
The acceptance of a note will not be regarded as payment of the debt for which it was given if the effect of such construction will be to destroy the security which the creditor had attempted to reserve for the payment of such debt.2 A provision in a water franchise to the effect that water must be furnished to the public corporation without charge for certain purposes, does not require the water company to furnish water for other purposes without charge.3 A contract for the sale of property in which certain undivided interests and a dower interest existed and for the payment of certain claims out of such fund and for the payment of a "remainder" of such fund to the widow, is to be construed as requiring the payment to her only of the remainder of the share of her deceased husband.4 If a provision might be a condition or a covenant and either construction will protect one party equally, while one construction will make the contract much more burdensome to the other, that provision will be taken which renders it least burdensome.5 A contract for the purchase of a water-works system by a public corporation is to be construed as a purchase of the entire system, including certain distributing systems in suburban towns outside of the territorial limits of such public corporation.6 Thus a contract by a principal to furnish his agent samples and advertising matter means a reasonable amount, and not whatever the agent may demand.7 So a contract to furnish machinery to be set up in "good working order" means not at the very moment of completing the work, but after giving the vendee a reasonable opportunity for testing it.8 A contract by A to construct a heater to B's satisfaction means, if B dies before the heater is finished, to the satisfaction of B's executor and devisee, and not to B's satisfaction.9 Where A agreed to pay B for certain advertising by deducting the amount of such bill from the price of any launch that B might buy of A, it was held that such launch was to be sold on "exactly the same terms as it offered other customers."10 So under a contract for the sale of sugar "for shipment within thirty days by sail or steam at seller's option," "shipment" means placing the sugar within such time on board of a vessel which is honestly endeavoring to secure a full cargo, and which is bound for the proper port, and does not mean that such vessel must clear within such time.11 A provision for making the architect's certificate conclusive is to be construed as making it conclusive upon both the contractor and the owner.12 Such a provision is not to be regarded as applicable to a dispute to which the architect himself is a party.13 A provision for replacing parts which break under normal service in a specified time because of defective material or workmanship, applies to an injury of a part which itself is perfect, but which is injured because of a defect in another part.14 Such a provision applies to bearings which are burnt out by reason of a defective crank case, although the bearings themselves are perfect.15
Mississippi Dederick v. Wolfe, 68 Miss. 500, 24 Am. St. Rep. 283, 9 So. 350.
Missouri. Lovelace v. Travelers', etc., Association, 126 Mo. 104, 47 Am. St. Rep. 638, 30 L. R. A. 209, 28 S. W. 877.
Nebraska. Midland Glass & Paint Co. v. Ocean Accident & Guarantee Corporation, 102 Neb. 349, L. R. A. 1918D, 442, 167 N. W. 211.
Nevada. Ely Water Co. v. White Pine Co., 38 Nev. 472, L. R. A. 1916D, 431, 151 Pac. 335.
New York. Wright v. ReusenB, 133 N. Y. 298, 305, 31 N. E. 215; Gillett v. Bank, 160 N. Y. 549, 55 N. E. 292.
North Carolina. Fairbanks-Morse & Co. v. Twin City Supply Co., 170 N. Car. 315, 86 S. E. 1051.
Ohio. Travelers' Ins. Co. v. Myers, 62 O. S. 529, 49 L. R. A. 760, 57 N. E. 458.
Oklahoma. Union Trust Co. v. Shelby Downard Asphalt Co., 55 Okla. 251, 156 Pac. 903.
Virginia. Hairston v. Hill, 118 Va. 339, 87 S. E. 573.
Vermont. Thompson-Starrett Co. v. Plunkett, 89 Vt. 177, 94 Atl. 845.
Wisconsin. Kentzler v. Accident Association. 88 Wis. 589, 43 Am. St. Rep. 934, 60 N. W. 1002.
A general guaranty which does not specify the amount for which it is given, will be construed for a reasonable amount only; and accordingly it will not be construed as imposing an obligation upon the guarantor for an amount in excess of that which the bank to which the guaranty was given was permitted by law to lend to any one debtor. Farmers' Savings Bank v. Jameson, 175 Ia. 676, 157 N. W. 460.
A provision for giving notice of loss "immediately" must be construed reasonably in connection with the circumstances which surround the loss. Midland Glass & Paint Co. v. Ocean Accident & Guarantee Corporation, 102 Neb. 349, L. R. A. 1918D, 442, 167 N. W. 211.
A covenant "to perform * * * additional service that may be ordered * * * by the establishment of new * * * post-offices," is held not to apply to a great amount of additional work and expense made necessary by the creation of a post-office station three miles from the original station. United States v. Utah, Nevada and California Stage Co., 199 U. S. 414, 50 L. ed. 251.
2Leschen & Sons Rope Co. v. Mayflower Gold Min. & R. Co., 173 Fed. 855, 35 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1, 97 C. C. A. 465.
3 Ely Water Co. v. White Pine Co., 38 Nev. 472, L. R. A. 1916D, 431, 151 Pac. 335.
4 Calvo v. De Gutierrez, 208 U. S. 443, 52 L. ed. 564.
5 Carper v. United Fuel Gas Co., 78 W. Va. 433, L. R. A. 1917A, 171, 89 S. E. 12.
6 Omaha v. Omaha Water Co., 218 U. S. 180, 54 L. ed. 991, 48 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1084.
7 Jensen v. Perry, 126 Pa. St. 495, 12 Am. St. Rep. 888, 17 Atl. 665.
8 Edison, etc., Co. v. Navigation Co., 8 Wash. 370, 40 Am. St. Rep. 910, 24 L. R. A. 315, 36 Pac. 260.
9 Adams Radiator Co. v. Schnader, 155 Pa. St. 394. 35 Am. St. Rep. 893, 26 Atl. 745.
10 Hand v. Power Co., 167 N. Y. 142, 60 N. E. 425.
11 Ledon v. Havermeyer, 121 N. Y. 179, 8 L. R. A. 245, 24 N. E. 297.
12 Young v. Stein, 152 Mich. 310, 125 Am. St. Rep. 412, 116 N. W. 195.
13 Payne v. Roberts, 214 Pa. St. 568, 64 Atl. 86.
Contracts in restraint of trade will be construed to impose reasonable limitations as to time 16 or place,17 if it does not appear to be the intention of the parties to impose an unreasonable limitation. So a contract not to sell certain realty for less than a certain price will be construed to restrict it for a reasonable time only.18 A covenant not to compete in business in a certain city has been construed so as to prevent competition from a place of business just outside of the limits of such city.19
If the language which the parties have used is free from ambiguity, the courts can not give relief by construction against harsh or oppressive consequences.20 The contract may be so unconscionable that it may be set aside altogether,21 but the court can not vary the plain language of the contract under guise of construction. At the same time the fact that the result of a literal application of the language of the contract will be oppression or illegality may induce the court to regard a contract as ambiguous, although similar language would not be regarded as ambiguous if it would lead to a just and lawful result.22
A clause which is introduced by a proviso is prima facie a condition.23 If it is doubtful whether a clause is intended as a condition or as a covenant, its operation and effect will be considered;24 and if it will be equally beneficial to one party if treated as a condition, and not as burdensome to the adversary party, it will be regarded as a condition.25
14 American Locomotive Company v National Wholesale Grocery Company, 226 Mass. 314, L. R. A. 1917D, 1125, 115 N. E. 404.
15 American Locomotive Company v. National Wholesale Grocery Company, 226 Mass. 314, L. R. A. 1917D, 1125, 115 N. E. 404.
15 Saddlery Hardware Mfg. Co. v. Hillsborough Mills, 68 N. H. 216, 73 Am. St. Rep. 569, 44 Atl. 300. (Here a contract by a vendor of goods not to sell like goods to anyone else in that locality was construed to mean until vendee had a reasonable opportunity to resell such goods.)
17Dethlefs v. Tarasen, 7 Daly (N. Y.) 354.
18 Rackemann v. Improvement Co., 167 Mass. 1, 57 Am. St. Rep. 427, 44 N. E. 990.
19Skaggs v. Simpson (Ky.), 110 S. W. 251, 33 Ky. Law Rep. 410.
20 Lee v. Cochran, 157 Ala. 311, 47 So. 581.
21 See Sec. 641 et seq.
22 Clappenback v. New York Life Insurance Co.. 136 Wis. 626, 118 N. W. 245.
23 Southern Colonization Co. v. Derf-lex, - Fla. - , 75 So. 790.