A civil action is an action that is brought to enforce, redress or protect a private or civil right. It is a non criminal litigation. If the action is brought by a private person it is termed as private action. If it brought by the government it is termed as public action.
In Gillson v. Vendome Petroleum Corp., 35 F. Supp. 815, 819 (D. La. 1940), the court defined civil action as “every species of "suit" not of a criminal kind, and comprehends every conceivable cause of action, whether legal or equitable, except such as are "criminal", in the sense that the judgment may be a fine or imprisonment, etc.”