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.
In cases in which the seller is in substantial default for failure to deliver one or more of the instalments due under an instalment contract, it is held in a number of jurisdictions that the buyer may treat such default on the part of the seller as a breach of the entire contract, which justifies the buyer in treating the contract as discharged.1 In some of the cases in which this result has been reached, the seller was in default as to the first instalment or instalments; although this fact is not emphasized, in many of these cases, as the reason for holding the contract to be discharged.2 In other jurisdictions, the fact that the vendor is in substantial default in delivering one or more instalments, is held not to be a breach of the entire contract, which will justify the purchaser in refusing to accept the remaining instalments and to pay for them if the seller delivers such remaining instalments in accordance with the terms of the contract.3 Under a contract to deliver iron in specified instalments, failure to deliver one instalment at the time specified, if time is of the essence of the contract, is such a breach as to discharge the vendee.4 The same result has been reached under a contract to log and manufacture a certain amount of lumber and to load it on cars one season and to complete the work during the following season where the stipulated amount was not gotten out during the first season.5
1 Bean v. Bunker, 68 Vt. 72, 33 Atl. 1068; Lunsford v. Wren, 64 W. Va. 458, 63 S. E. 308.
2 Chamberlin v. Booth, 135 Ga. 719, 35 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1223, 70 S. E. 569 (a building contract).
1W. K. Henderson Lumber Co. v. Stilwell, 130 Mich. 124, 89 N. W. 718; State v. Davie, 53 N. J. L. 144, 20 Atl. 1080.
2 Minaker v. California Canneries Co., 138 Cal. 239, 71 Pac. 110; Easfton v. Jones, 193 Pa. St. 147, 44 Atl. 264.
4 Cadillac Machine Co. v. Mitchell-Diggins Iron Co., - Mich. -, 171 N. W. 479; Dow Chemical Co. v. Detroit Chemical Works, - Mich. -, 175 N. W. 269.