The United Mine Workers International Union (the Union) (defendant) was engaged in a protracted labor dispute with certain companies (plaintiffs). These companies sued the Union in April 1989 to enjoin future unlawful strike activities. The trial court entered an injunction prohibiting the Union and its members from engaging in certain unlawful conduct. Subsequently, the trial court found that the Union had violated the injunction many times and announced future violations would be punished by a predetermined fine. The trial court held additional contempt hearings and found the union in contempt for over 400 violations of the injunction. The trial court conducted the contempt hearings as civil proceedings without a jury. The trial court fined the Union over $64 million. Approximately $12 million of the fine was ordered to be paid to the companies, with the remainder to be paid to the state and county governments. The companies and the Union settled their dispute and agreed to vacate the contempt fines. The trial court permitted the portion of the fines payable to the companies to be discharged, but refused to vacate the portion payable to the state and counties. The trial court appointed John Bagwell (plaintiff) to collect the fines owed to the state and counties. The Union appealed to the Virginia Court of Appeals, which reversed. Bagwell appealed to the Supreme Court of Virginia, which upheld the fine. The Union then petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review.