Rule 2– One Form of Action

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Simplified:
Title II – Commencing an Action; Service of Process; Pleadings, Motions, & Orders
Rule 2 – One Form of Action

Continued from Rule 1 – Scope and Purpose.


Rule 2 Transcript:

     “There is one form of action— the civil action.” [1]


Related Definitions:

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form of action:

1. The Common-law legal & procedural device associated with a particular writ, each of which had specific forms of process, pleading, trial, & judgment.  

The 11 common-law forms of action were

#1.) Trespass – wrongful entry upon another person’s real property  (land).

#2.) Replevin  to repossess a person or “personal property” (movable or intangible assets, but not “real property” such as land or buildings) wrongfully taken, detained (withheld), imprisoned, or encumbered (i.e. probation).

#3.) Detinue recover “personal property” (movable or intangible assets, but not “real property” such as land or buildings) that has been detained either by private persons or government officials.

#4.) Ejectment – an owner or occupier who was wrongfully ejected from “real property” (land or buildings) recovers possession, damages, and costs.

#5.) Trover – recover damages for property that was wrongfully taken and then sold, given away, lost, etc.

#6.) Trespass On the Case  recover damages which occurred as a consequence for another’s action or inaction such as negligence, fraud, slander, deceit, omissions, etc.

#7.) Special Assumpsit  breach of contract.

#8.) General Assumpsit  breach of non-written promise or agreement.

#9.) Debt – liability based on breach of contract or agreement, for the purpose of claiming a fixed sum of money.

#10.) Account  violation of fiduciary relation or to recover certain fixed sum of money for business contract breach.

#11.) Covenant – to claim damages as a result of breach of contract, deed, or other covenant, to fine someone. [2]

     Excerpt from  Handbook of Common-Law Pleading” by Benjamin J. Shipman:

    “Forms of action are usually regarded as different method of procedure adapted to cases of different kinds, but in fact the choice between forms of action is primarily a choice between different theories of substantive liability, and the scope of the actions measures the existence and the extent of the liability at common law…. The development and extension of the different forms of action is the history of the recognition of rights and liability in the law of the torts, contracts, and property, and the essentials of rights of action.” [3]


Next Rule:

Rule 3-  Commencing An Action


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[1]: United States Courts, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (2017):

[2]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner.  ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[3]: Edwin E. Bryant’s The Law of Pleading Under the Codes of Civil Procedure 106 (2nd Ed. 1899) ISBN: 9781330614815


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