American Telephone & Telegraph Co. asked a U.S. appeals court yesterday to overturn the $1.8 billion anti-trust judgment awarded to MCI Communications Corp.

The appeal, filed in Chicago, claimed the lower-court judge committed numerous errors during the trial that resulted in a "gross distortion" of federal antitrust laws.

Perhaps more important, AT&T argued in its appeal, the lower-court jury was told it could award damages "grossly in excess of any profits MCI ever earned or conceivably could have earned." The $1.8 billion award was the largest antitrust judgment ever.

After a four-month trial, the jury found AT&T guilty of 10 of 15 charges alleged by MCI, which accused the communications giant of violating federal antitrust laws by failing to provide MCI with necessary hookups and other services. MCI provides long-distance telephone service to business and residential customers in 65 cities.

AT&T has called the verdict " a travesty of justice."

In its appeal yesterday, AT&T claimed the lower court "saddled the company with the largest monetary judgment in history essentially for doing nothing more than discharging its obligations under the law." The company basically argues that the actions it took with respect to MCI were required under federal regulations governing the nation's telephone industry.

AT&T also argued that the damage ward was way out of proportion with reality.