Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 2
Rule 2. One Form of Action
There is one form of action—the civil action.
What does one form mean?
Originally in England and in the United States there were two major types of courts – – Chancery Courts and Courts of Law (this is a very broad generalization). Chancery courts are also known as courts of equity. These courts could provide certain types of relief that courts of law could not and also had different rules. For example, a Chancery court could issue an injunction – – meaning that the court could order someone to do something or not do something as opposed to simply ordering one litigant to pay another litigant money. Chancery courts were meant to be less rigid than court of law. The courts did not have a jury and judges had more leeway to render decisions. Rule 2 establishes that the federal courts have only one type of court and that the court can hear cases that otherwise would have been brought in courts of equity. In a civil action in federal court a litigant can ask for all types of relief, including both an injunction and money damages. Litigants don’t have to worry about the distinction between courts of equity and courts of law, both types of cases belong in federal court.