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This word, derived from the French conte, a narrative, is in our old law books used synonymously with declaration but practice has introduced the following distinction: When the plaintiff's complaint embraces only a single cause of action, and he makes only one statement of it, that statement is called, indifferently, a declaration or count; though the former is the more usual term.
But when the suit embraces two or more causes of action, (each of which of course requires a different statement), or when the plaintiff makes two or more different statements of one and the same cause of action, each several statement is called a count, and all of them, collectively, constitute the declaration.
In all cases, however, in which there are two or more counts, whether there is actually but one cause of action or several, each count purports, upon the face of it, to disclose a distinct right of action unconnected with that stated in any of the other counts.
One object of inserting two or more counts in one declaration, when there is in fact but one cause of action is, in some cases, to guard against the danger of an insufficient statement of the cause where a doubt exists as to the legal sufficiency of one or another of two different modes of declaring; but the more usual end proposed in inserting more than one count in such case is to accommodate the statement to the cause, as far as may be, to the possible state of the proof to be exhibited on trial; or to guard, if possible, against the hazard of the proofs varying materially from the statement of the cause of action; so that if one or more or several counts be not adapted to the evidence, some other of them may be so. In real actions, the declaration is most usually called a count.