In Knox v. Cessna Aircraft Co., Nos. 08-12827, 08-13046, 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 24070 (11th Cir. Nov. 24, 2008), the Court affirmed the trial courts decision excluding as unduly confusing and prejudicial a medical certification and physician testimony that Knox required a three-week extension of FMLA leave due to back problems. The doctor admitted during depositions that he completed the certification based solely on representations made by Knox to his nursing assistant over the telephone. The doctor had previously released Knox to return to work after conducting medical tests, including a CT scan. The doctor conceded that he could not state "to a reasonable degree of medical certainty" that Knox had a "serious medical condition that required [Knox] to be absent from work." The Eleventh Circuit agreed that the doctor's testimony was not reliable because he did not have personal knowledge to certify that Knox had a serious health condition, particularly where Knox's self-diagnosis conflicted with the available medical evidence.
Comment: To be valid, a medical certification of an FMLA-covered serious health condition must be the product of a reasonable medical assessment, including tests and examination. A medical certification based on an employee's phoned-in self-serving self-diagnosis will not support an employee's request for FMLA leave.