the religious issues presented herein against defendants [in the
Article 78 proceeding], . . . so defendants are estopped from
defending those issues in this action." Pl.'s Mem. at 3.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1738, we must give the same preclusive
effect to a state court judgment as it would be given by that
state. Brooks v. Giuliani, 84 F.3d 1454, 1463 (2d Cir. 1996).
We therefore look to New York law to determine the effect of Mr.
Cancel's successful Article 78 litigation: "Under New York law,
the doctrine of collateral estoppel, or issue preclusion,
applies when a litigant in a prior proceeding asserts an issue
of fact or law in a subsequent proceeding and (1) the issue has
necessarily been decided in the prior action and is decisive of
the present action, and (2) there has been a full and fair
opportunity to contest the decision now said to be controlling."
Giakoumelos v. Coughlin, 88 F.3d 56, 59 (2d Cir. 1996) (citing
Schwartz v. Public Adm'r, 24 N.Y.2d 65, 71, 298 N.Y.S.2d 955,
960, 246 N.E.2d 725 (1969) and Colon v. Coughlin, 58 F.3d 865,
869 (2d Cir. 1995)) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Mr. Cancel's Article 78 petition before the Dutchess County
Supreme Court prayed that the Court would (1) overrule the
decision denying the Fishkill Grievance; (2) order Commissioner
Goord to "afford equal status and protection to all prisoners in
the exercise of their religious beliefs"; and (3) order
Commissioner Goord to "perform all the duties required of him by
law" to protect Mr. Cancel's "religious rights." Durden Aff. Ex.
A. The Supreme Court found that the record it was presented with
at the outset of the litigation was "insufficient to permit [it]
to determine whether the doctrinal and cultural distinctions
between Sunni and Shi'a practices and beliefs warranted the
relief requested in the petition," and therefore "adjourned the
proceeding to allow [Mr. Cancel] and [Commissioner Goord] to
provide additional submissions, in appropriate affidavit form,
on the issue of the cultural and doctrinal differences between
Sunni Muslims and Shi'a Muslims." Cancel, 695 N.Y.S.2d at
268-69. In response, Mr. Cancel submitted two affidavits and
five exhibits, while Commissioner Goord did not provide the
Court with any additional submissions. Id. at 269.
The Supreme Court found that the denial of the grievance was
"contrary to the objectives of DOCS Directive No. 4202 and the
First Amendment right of religious liberty (U.S. Const. First
Amend.) upon which it is based." Id. This judgment was
affirmed, but on notably different grounds, and was modified as
well. The Appellate Division's opinion does not rely upon, or
even mention, the First Amendment of the United States
Constitution.*fn10 See Cancel, 278 A.D.2d 321, 717 N.Y.S.2d 610.
Rather, that Court rested its affirmance on New York Corrections Law § 610.
Id. at 612 ("denial of the grievance was . . . in violation of Corrections
Law § 610").
As DOCS was given a full and fair opportunity to not only
contest Mr. Cancel's Article 78 petition, but also to supplement
the record before the Supreme Court, we find that preclusive
effect should be given to those issues that were "necessarily
decided" by the New York State courts. Giakoumelos, 88 F.3d at
59. We conclude, however, that there are only two issues that
fall into this category. First, there is a finding of fact that
there are "significant dogmatic differences" between the Shi'a
and Sunni sects. Cancel, 717 N.Y.S.2d at 611. Second, there is
a finding of law that DOCS's actions violated
New York Corrections Law § 610. Id. at 612. Significantly, the
state court decision did not reach any of the Federal
Constitutional issues that we are asked to decide with respect
to Mr. Cancel's § 1983 claim,*fn11 and, therefore, the state
court decision has no preclusive effect on those issues.
IV. Legal Principles
Before we consider the merits of defendants' motions to
dismiss, we first set out several legal principles that are
applicable to most or all of these motions.
A. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e)
Defendants argue that 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e), which reads, "No
Federal civil action may be brought by a prisoner confined in a
jail, prison, or other correctional facility, for mental or
emotional injury suffered while in custody without a prior
showing of physical injury," bars Mr. Cancel's § 1983 suit. It
is certainly true that Mr. Cancel does not allege a physical
injury. Nevertheless, it is equally true that he brought this
action, inter alia, for alleged violations of his First
Amendment rights, rather than "for mental or emotional
injury." Id. (emphasis supplied). Accordingly, § 1997e(e) does
not present an obstacle to the instant action. See, e.g., Rowe
v. Shake, 196 F.3d 778, 781-82 (7th Cir. 1999) ("A prisoner is
entitled to judicial relief for a violation of his First
Amendment rights aside from any physical, mental, or emotional
injury he may have sustained."); Amaker v. Haponik, 1999 WL
76798, *6-*7 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 17, 1999).
B. State Law Claims
Mr. Cancel's Amended Complaint includes claims brought under
New York State law. New York Corrections Law § 24, however,
reads in relevant part:
1. No civil action shall be brought in any court of
the state, except by the attorney general on behalf
of the state, against any officer or employee of
[DOCS], in his personal capacity, for damages arising
out of any act done or the failure to perform any act
within the scope of the employment and in the
discharge of the duties by such officer or employee.
2. Any claim for damages arising out of any act done
or the failure to perform any act within the scope of
the employment and in the discharge of the duties of
any officer or employee of [DOCS]
shall be brought and maintained in the court of
claims as a claim against the state.
Upon taking pendent jurisdiction over Mr. Cancel's state claims,
we are bound to apply state substantive law to those state
claims. United Mine Workers v. Gibbs,