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 the dissatisfaction is genuine, the question is presented whether this alone will prevent liability from existing, or whether the dissatisfaction must not only be genuine, but must also be caused by such omissions or defects as would cause a reasonable man to be dissatisfied. This depends in part upon the nature of the contract. If the subject-matter of the contract involves personal taste or feeling, dissatisfaction, if genuine, prevents liability from existing, even if a reasonable man under similar circumstances would have been satisfied.1 An artist who agreed to paint for A a portrait of A and his wife, which he agreed should be "satisfactory" to A, can not recover if A is not satisfied, no matter how good the picture is.2 The same result has been reached under a contract to make a portrait of a deceased child from a photograph, to the satisfaction of the father,3 although the father is unable to indicate in what respect the picture was a poor likeness,4 or under a contract to make a plaster bust of a deceased husband to the satisfaction of the widow.5 The fact that the dissatisfaction is unreasonable, since the bust was as good as a plaster bust could be, but that, being in plaster, it lacked the expression of the deceased, is sufficient to permit the widow to escape liability therefor.6 Thus a contract for furnishing roofing tile of a rare and peculiar color,7 or for making a suit of clothes 8 to the satisfaction of the adversary party, is not performed unless he is satisfied. If the person for whom the clothes are to be made is dissatisfied in good faith, he is not bound to pay therefor, although his dissatisfaction is unreasonable,9 and although he refuses to try them on for alterations after they have been made.10
Vermont. Daggett v. Johnson, 40 Vt. 345; McClure v. Briggs, 58 Vt. 82, 56 Am. Rep. 557, 2 Atl. 583.
Wisconsin. Exhaust Ventilator Co. v. Ry., 66 Wis. 218, 57 Am. Rep. 257, 28 N. W. 343; Manning v. Ft. Atkinson School District, 124 Wis. 84, 102 N. W. 356.
3 Mackenzie v. Minis, 132 Ga. 323, 23 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1003, 63 S. E. 900; Lieberman v. Weil, 141 Wis. 635, 124 N. W. 262.
4 Mackenzie v. Minis, 132 Ga. 323, 23 L.R. A. (N.S.) 1003, 63 S. E. 900; Sax v. Detroit, G. II. & Milwaukee R. R. Co., 125 Mich. 252, 84 Am. St. Rep. 572, 84 N. W. 314; Lieberman v. Weil, 141 Wis. 635, 124 N. W. 262.
5 Sax v. R. R., 125 Mich. 252, 84 Am. St. Rep. 572, 84 N. W. 314.
6 Gibson v. Cranage, 39 Mich. 49, 33 Am. Rep. 351.
7 Gibson v. Cranage, 30 Mich. 49, 33 Am. Rep. 351.
8 Gibson v. Cranage, 39 Mich. 49, 33 Am. Rep. 351.
9 See Sec. 2621.
10 See Sec. 2621 and 2622.
1 Connecticut Zaleski v. Clark, 44 Conn. 218, 26 Am. Rep. 446.
Massachusetts. Brown v. Foster, 11 Mass. 136, 18 Am. Hep. 463.
Michigan. Gibson v. Carnage, 39 Mich. 49, 33 Am. Rep. 351; Walter A. Wood, etc., Co. v. Smith, 50 Mich. 665, 45 Am. Rep. 57, 15 N. W. 906.
Rhode Island. Pennington v. How-land, 21 R. I. 65, 79 Am. St. Rep. 774, 41 Atl. 891.
Vermont. Hartford Sorghum Mfg. Co. v. Brush, 43 Vt. 528; Daggett v. Johnson, 49 Vt. 345; McClure Bros. v. Briggs, 58 Vt. 82, 56 Am. Rep. 557, 2 Atl. 583.
"It is not for any one else to decide whether a refusal to accept is or is not reasonable." Brown v. Foster, 113 Mass. 136, 18 Am. Rep. 463.
2 Pennington v. Howland, 21 R. I. 65, 79 Am. St. Rep. 774, 41 Atl. 891.
3 Gibson v. Carnage, 39 Mich. 49, 33 Am. Rep. 351.
4 Gibson v. Carnage, 39 Mich. 49, 33 Am. Rep. 351.
5 Zaleski v. Clark, 44 Conn. 218, 26 Am. Rep. 446.
6 Zaleski v. Clark, 44 Conn. 218, 26 Am. Rep. 446. 7 McNeil v. Armstrong, 81 Fed. 943.
8 Brown v. Foster, 113 Mass. 136, 18 Am. Rep. 463.
9 Brown v. Foster, 113 Mass. 136, 18 Am. Rep. 463.
10 Brown v. Foster, 113 Mass. 136, 18 Am. Rep. 463.
In applying the principle that genuine dissatisfaction is sufficient, whether reasonable or not, if the contract provides for a subject-matter involving personal taste, a contract for personal services is generally regarded as a contract in which the personal element is material; and, accordingly, while it is necessary that dissatisfaction should be genuine,11 it is not necessary that it should be reasonable.12 Questions of this sort in contracts for personal services usually arise under provisions which reserve to the employer the right to terminate the contract if he is dissatisfied; and accordingly such questions are discussed in that connection.13