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.
Whether the fact that the party who refuses performance assigns a specific ground as a reason therefor, should prevent him from relying upon some other ground where the other ground on which he seeks to rely is not due to his refusal, as in cases in which such ground was already in existence at the time of such refusal and could not have been remedied by the adversary party, is a question upon which there is a conflict of authority. It would appear that in cases in which the adversary party is not induced to act or to refrain from acting by such refusal upon such assigned ground, he is in no way prejudiced by the assignment of such improper reason; and if there is in fact some other valid defense to which the party who has refused performance would otherwise be entitled, his right to make use of such defense should not be forfeited by the fact that he has assigned, as a reason for his refusal, some ground upon which he can not rely at law. In a number of cases this view is taken; and it is held that assigning an unjustifiable ground for treating the contract as discharged does not waive other defenses which were not caused as a consequence of such refusal.1 The fact that an employer assigns an improper ground for discharging his servant, does not prevent him from taking advantage of some valid ground which was then in existence,2 even if he did not know of such ground at the time of such discharge.3 If the seller has failed to perform his contract,4 as where there is a substantial delay in delivering the goods,5 or where he has delivered a different quantity and by a different route from that provided for in the contract,6 the fact that he has based his refusal to perform on some other reason, such as the defective quality of the goods,7 or his inability to resell such goods under existing conditions,8 docs not operate as a waiver of such breach as a discharge. The act of the purchaser in objecting to a prior deed in the chain of title on one ground, does not waive a defect in such deed upon a different ground.9 That assigning an erroneous ground for refusal to perform is not a waiver of other defenses, is especially clear where the real defense is a failure to agree upon the terms of a contract.10
6 Freeland v. Ritz, 154 Maes. 257, 26 Am. St. Rep. 244, 12 L. R. A. 661, 28 N. E. 226.
7 United States. Royal Ins. Co. v. Martin, 102 U. S. 149, 48 L. ed. 385; St. Louis Dressed Beef Co. v. Mary-land Casualty Co., 201 U. S. 173, 50 L. ed. 712; Phenix Ins. Co. v. Luce, 123 Fed. 257.
Georgia. Cowdery v. Greenlee, 126 Ga. 786, 8 L. R. A. (N.S.) 137, 55 S. E. 018.
Indiana. Adams Express Co. v. Harris, 120 Ind. 73, 16 Am. St. Rep. 315, 7L.R.A. 214, 21 N. E. 340; Millikan T. Hunter, 180 Ind. 149, 100 N. E. 1041.
Iowa. Condon v. Des Moines Mutual Hail Association, 120 Ia. 80, 94 N. W. 477.
Massachusetts. Smith v. Greene, 197 Mass. 16, 83 N. E. 9; Justice v. Soder-lund, 225 Mass. 320, 114 N. E. 623.
Michigan. Schwartz v. Woodruff, 132 Mich. 513, 93 N. W. 1067.
Missouri. McDonald V. Bankers' Life Association, 154 Mo. 618, 55 S. W. 909.
New Hampshire. Seely v. Manhattan Life Ins. Co., 72 N. H. 49, 55 All. 425.
North Carolina. Kime v. Riddle, 174 N. Car. 442, 93 S. E. 946.
8 Cowdery v. Greenlee, 126 Ga. 786, 8 L. R. A. (N.S.) 137, 55 S. E. 018; Millikan v. Hunter, 180 Ind. 149, 100 N. E. 1041; Smith v. Greene, 197 Mass. 16, 83 N. E. 9; Justice v. Soderlund, 225 Mass. 320, 114 N. E. 623; Schwartz v. Woodruff, 132 Mich. 513, 93 N. W. 1067.
9 St. Louis Dressed Beef Co. v. Maryland Casualty Co., 201 U. S. 173, 50 L. ed. 712.
10 Adams Express Co. v. Harris, 120 Ind. 73, 16 Am. St. Rep. 315, 7 L. R. A. 214, 21 N. E. 340.
1 United States. Connell Bros. Co. v. Diederichsen, 213 Fed. 737; Farmer v. First Trust Co., Re Milwaukee Motor Co., 246 Fed. 671, L. R. A. 1918C, 1027.
Illinois. Koch v. Streuter, 232 111. 694, 83 N. E. 1072.
Iowa. Bamberger v. Burrows, 115 la. 441, 124 N. W. 333.
Kansas. McCarter v. Rogers, 104 Kan. 204, 178 Pac. 621 (obiter, since no contract existed).
Louisiana. Crescent City Mfg. Co. v. Slattery, 132 La. 917, 61 So. 870.
Minnesota. Von Heyne v. Tompkins, 89 M4nn. 77, 5 L. R. A. (N.S.) 524, 93 N. W. 901.
Nebraska. Bryant v. Thesing, 46 Neb. 244, 64 N. W. 967.
North Dakota. Sunshine Cloak & Suit Co. v. Roquette, 30 N. D. 143, L. R. A. 1916E, 932, 152 N. W. 359.
Ohio. List & Son Co. v. Chase, 80 O. S. 42, 88 N. E. 120.
Rhode Island. Perry v. Mt. Hope Iron Co., 16 R. I. 318, 15 Atl. 87.
Texas. Strain v. Pauley Jail Bldg. & Mfg. Co., 80 Tex. 622, 16 S. W. 625.
2 Farmer v. First Trust Co., Re Milwaukee Motor Co., 246 Fed. 671, L. R. A. 1918C, 1027; Von Heyne v. Tompkins, 89 Minn. 77, 5 L. R. A. (N.S.) 524, 93 N. W. 901.
3 Farmer v. First Trust Co., Re Milwaukee Motor Co., 246 Fed. 671, L. R. A. 1918C, 1027; Von Heyne v. Tompkins, 89 Minn. 77, 5 L. R. A. (N.S.) 524, 93 N. W. 901.
4 Sunshine Cloak & Suit Co. v. Roquette, 30 N. D. 143, L. R. A. 1916E. 932, 152 N. W. 359; List & Son Co. v. Chase, 80 O. S. 42, 88 N. E. 120.