160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court refused Monday to let the government sue tobacco companies for $280 billion, a major victory for cigarette makers. The fight was over the amount of money the companies would have to pay if a federal trial judge rules that they violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by misleading the public about the dangers of smoking. The judge who presided over a nine-month trial has not yet decided whether tobacco companies are guilty of wrongdoing under RICO law. A lower appellate court said that the government could not pursue Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and other companies for profits that the government claims they earned illegally. The Supreme Court declined, without comment, to hear the Bush administration’s appeal. The court’s decision sent shares of tobacco companies surging, with Philip Morris USA parent Altria Group Inc. rising by $4.30 to $74.96 and rival Reynolds American Inc. by $5.06 to $83.80. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said that while the administration was disappointed, “we continue to believe very strongly in this case.” The case could return to the Supreme Court later.