[JURIST] Speaking Friday in Michigan at the end of a three-day policy campaign dedicated to tort reform, President Bush called for a halt to asbestos lawsuits that he said have bankrupted companies and resulted in dramatic cost and tax increases. Instead he urged Congress to pass legisltion establishing an $140 billion asbestos compensation fund to compensate victims of exposure. Against a backdrop of panels with the slogan "Ending Lawsuit Abuse" Bush was joined by Cardozo law professor Lester Brickman, who has written extensively on asbestos issue. Echoing the President, Brickman called the record of asbestos litigation a "national tragedy", noting that hundreds of thousands of what he called "largely baseless" claims had "generated tens of billions of dollars in payments, and billions of dollars in fee income for lawyers." The White House has posted the full text of this afternoon's policy conversation here. Bloomberg has more. Federal legislation setting up an asbestos compensation fund and limiting lawsuits was proposed in 2004 but died at the end of the last Congress when lawmakers could not agree on terms. Responding to the Bush policy campaign, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America Friday called on the President to address the asbestos problem substantively by banning the use of a substance that it says has killed more than 300,000 American workers. Read their press release here.