- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 25, 2020

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Two Rhode Island inmates serving life in prison are suing to overturn a state law that declares them civilly dead.

Joshua Davis, 34, and James Lombardi, 35, argued in federal court Monday that the Civil Death Act violates their first and fifth amendment rights by preventing them from suing the state Department of Corrections, the Providence Journal reported.

A lawyer arguing for the state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union asked the court to declare the law unconstitutional so Davis and Lombardi can voice their grievances in state court. Prosecutors said Davis and Lombardi’s suit should be dismissed since there is no federal right to bring lawsuits.

Lombardi seeks to sue the Department of Corrections for negligence after he says his leg was cut on the sharp edge of a footlocker in his cell. He was sentenced to serve life in 2018 after he admitted to beating and strangling a Massachusetts woman to death and burying her behind a vacant house.

Davis wants to sue the department for medical malpractice after he says a nurse used a dirty needle to inject him with insulin. Davis is serving life without parole for first-degree murder in the 2006 abduction and death of 8-year-old Savannah Smith. He admitted to driving Savannah to a wooded section of Cranston, where he raped, strangled and beat her.

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