Maria Lourdes De La Lama v. Michael Dounel D.M.D. et al

Parties Involved

  • Plaintiff(s): Maria Lourdes De La Lama
    • Counsel for Plaintiff: Todd J.Bloomfield  | Steven Goldberg


  • Defendant(s): Michael Dounel D.M.D. | Michael Dounel D.M.D. Inc. dba New Smile Dental | Michael Dounel D.M.D. Inc.
    • Counsel for Defendants: Patrick E. Stockalper

Verdict Information

  • Verdict Date: May 24, 2024
  • Total damages awarded to Plaintiff: $725,000
    •  For past non-economic losses: $100,000
    • For future non-economic losses: $625,000

About the Case


Maria Lourdes de la Lama initiated a legal action against Dr. Michael Dounel, New Smile Dental, and other unspecified defendants in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles. De la Lama’s complaint accused the defendants of medical negligence, dental malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty, claiming they failed to provide proper care, obtain informed consent, and meet the standard of care expected of dental professionals in their locality.

The plaintiff asserted that the defendants acted negligently in their examination, diagnosis, treatment, and overall care. She alleged that they failed to possess and exercise the degree of skill and knowledge ordinarily held by dentists and surgeons in the same locality. De la Lama claimed this negligence caused her to suffer physical injuries, mental anguish, and financial losses, including medical expenses and lost earnings.

In addition to negligence, the complaint accused the defendants of breaching their fiduciary duty to the patient. De la Lama alleged that the defendants prioritized their own interests, particularly financial gain, over her well-being. She claimed they misled her, failed to disclose material information, and allowed unlicensed or untrained staff to perform dental procedures without proper supervision.


Maria Lourdes de la Lama suffered significant injuries as a result of the alleged dental malpractice. The primary injury she sustained was nerve damage, which occurred during a wisdom tooth extraction procedure performed on or around November 30, 2019. This nerve damage caused her considerable pain and suffering, affecting her health, strength, and overall well-being. De la Lama experienced severe shock to her body and sustained injuries that impacted her nervous system. These injuries resulted in ongoing physical, mental, and nervous pain. The complaint suggested that the injuries might lead to permanent disability, though the full extent of the long-term effects was not yet known at the time of filing. In addition to the physical injuries, De la Lama incurred substantial medical expenses for subsequent treatment and care. She also suffered financial losses due to her inability to work, resulting in lost earnings and potentially diminished future earning capacity. The injuries significantly impacted her daily life and ability to perform her usual occupations and activities.


The legal complaint sought various forms of damages, including compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings and earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other general damages. The plaintiff further alleged that the defendants’ conduct was despicable and committed with malicious intent, potentially opening the door for punitive damages.

Jury Verdict

The jury found that Dr. Dounel was negligent in his treatment of De la Lama. They determined his negligence was a substantial factor in causing harm to her. The jury awarded De la Lama a total of $725,000 in damages. This amount included $100,000 for past non-economic losses. It also encompassed $625,000 for future non-economic losses.

Court Documents:

Available upon Request