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Altria Group Inc's Philip Morris USA unit and two co-defendants filed to overturn the verdict, while the government argues the appeals court wrongly denied the disgorgement of billions of dollars in ill-gotten gains by the tobacco industry.

In May, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed a trial judge's verdict against the cigarette makers, finding they violated federal anti-racketeering laws by conspiring to lie about the dangers of smoking.

If the Supreme Court agrees to take the case, it could redefine the reach of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Besides Philip Morris, maker of Marlboro cigarettes, the appeals court ruling was challenged Friday by Lorillard Inc, home of the Kent and Newport brands, and the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco unit of Reynolds American Inc, maker of Camel and other cigarettes.


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