Civil Action


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

Civil Action

A lawsuit brought to enforce, redress, or protect rights of private litigants—the plaintiffs and the defendants—not a criminal proceeding.

Today, courts in the United States generally are not divided into common-law courts and Equity courts because most states and the federal government have merged the procedures for law and equity into one system. Now all kinds of lawsuits are simply called civil actions without the former distinctions of procedure in law or in equity.

A criminal proceeding is called a penal action to distinguish it from civil actions.

civil action

n. any lawsuit relating to civil matters and not criminal prosecution. (See: lawsuit)

CIVIL ACTION. In New York, actions are divided only into two kinds, namely, criminal and civil. A criminal action is prosecuted by the state, as a party, against a person charged with a public offence, for the punishment thereof. Every other action is a civil action. Code of Procedure, s. 4, 5, 6; 3 Bouv. Inst. n. 2638. In common parlance, however, writs of mandamus, certiorari, habeas corpus, &c., are not comprised by the expression, civil actions. 6 Bin. Rep. 9.

References in periodicals archive ?
Any civil action under ERISA Section 4070 must be brought within six years after the date on which the cause of action arose, or three years after the earliest date on which the plaintiff acquired, or should have acquired, actual knowledge of the existence of such cause of action.
The best way to avert liability under Section 1983 is to avoid the constitutional violations that underlie the civil actions.
He confirmed there had been interest in the civil action from lawyers in Israel, Spain and the United States.
Meanwhile, Wirral council is looking at the possibility of launching a pilot project in Seacombe where civil action would be taken against nuisance neighbours and people displaying anti-social behaviour.
My client stands by the evidence she gave on oath and she may raise her own civil action against Mr Watt for damages arising out of the events leading to the High Court trial.
Francis Auld, then 21, walked free after a not proven verdict, but the Duffy family took out a civil action against Mr Auld and were awarded pounds 50,000 damages.
Also, the study concentrates on gross overexposure to the chemical and so contributes little to the debate behind A Civil Action.
Already a best-selling book, A Civil Action is now moving into the curriculum, which means captive schoolchildren are going to spend a lot of time watching John Travolta and being exposed to what Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam describes as the "unmistakable message of the movie and, to a lesser extent, the book": "Big corporations poured poison into the drinking water of a tiny, woe-begotten town, killed children," and "got away with it" because of our defective civil justice system.
It must be clarified, therefore, that an injunction is not a law; it is a civil action between two parties that attempt to control or stop certain behaviours of the defendant.
Suffice it to say that the reader leaves A Civil Action convinced that a courtroom is almost never a logical place to go if you want to solve society's problems, even when justice is on your side.
As we understand it, the scope of head of state immunity has not been precisely defined, but it is possible that such immunity could be interpreted as affording complete protection against any type of civil action in this country, including a regulatory enforcement proceeding.
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil action against Life Partners Holdings, Inc.