Pennsylvania Record

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Family of Codi Joyce alleges wrongful death in $7M lawsuit; Hosts of party object to being named as defendants

By Olivia Olsen | Aug 14, 2017

PITTSBURGH – A civil lawsuit alleging wrongful death and seeking millions of dollars in damages has been filed in the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas by the estate of Codi Joyce, a 23-year-old male who was found unresponsive inside a Munhall home and later died at a hospital.

Named in the suit are six individuals - Devin Hinkle, Ryan Sabo, Connor Stevens, Derek R. Marcone, Jessica Lentz and Daniel J. Lentz - whom the family of Joyce claim were all involved in the death in some form or other. Joyce was allegedly beaten at a party in 2015 in Munhall.

The formal complaint filed by Joyce’s father, John J. Joyce, states that Jessica Lentz was the host of frequent parties at her residence owned by Daniel J. Lentz (her father) who gave her permission to do so. The residence allegedly was known as a place for “younger individuals” to drink. One such party was held on Sept. 27, 2015, and Codi Joyce was in attendance, the suit states. 

Around 1 a.m., Joyce allegedly got into an altercation with Stevens over a Hot Pocket, escalating to the co-defendant, along with the help of Sabo, Hinkle and Marcone, beating and choking Joyce to death. The suit states that it was determined that cause of death was the result of a multi-system trauma to areas including the head, spine and abdomen.

The suit states that Hinkle and Stevens were responsible for the choking while Stevens, Marcon, and Sabo “repeatedly and violently” beat the decedent. Hinkle allegedly also sustained bite mark defensive wounds in the assault. 

After the attack, Marcone checked Joyce’s pulse and could not find a heartbeat, the suit claims.

The attackers, as well as the party’s host, allegedly failed to call the police and even went so far as to tell other party guests not to call 911. Emergency services were eventually called by neighbors who had heard the commotion of the party, the suit says.

Additionally, Sabo allegedly texted a woman stating that he and Hinkle had killed Joyce. Sabo also sent a picture with tear drops drawn onto his eye, similar to a gang symbol donned by individuals who have committed murder, the suit states. 

Joyce’s estate is seeking $7 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages.

Daniel Lentz and Jessica Lentz filed their objection on June 23 stating that paragraphs within the plaintiff’s complaint contained “scandalous or impertinent matter.” The named paragraphs center on the allegations that Jessica Lentz frequently hosted the parties in which minors were in attendance and that her father gave permission for the get-togethers. Eight paragraphs in total were objected to.

Attorneys for the co-defendants claim that as Joyce was not a minor, any mentions of underage drinking should be stricken as well as the mentions of Jessica Lentz hosting frequent parties. As no criminal charges of homicide have been brought against either Lentz, the defendants request the use of “murder” and “homicide” within the complaint be stricken. 

The response also argues that the defendants are unable to prepare a case due to the “wide open” nature of the complaint as it fails to “set forth causes of action individually against each defendant” in regards to the direct involvement of either Lentz on Joyce’s death.

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Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County