This isn't the first such lawsuit against Minneapolis for similar behavior, or even other Minnesota cities. It's the first to go to trial, however, and certainly the first to involve a court-decided payout.
City attorney Susan Segal told Wired she was "disappointed" in the outcome, but stressed that Minneapolis had tightened its restrictions on data in the years since Krekelberg learned of what happened. Employees now have to provide reasons when they access DMV info, for example. And to some extent, this case is only happening because Minnesota had a log of DMV data access -- it might not have happened in other states.
The incident also illustrates a perpetual problem with abuses of power when workers have unfettered access to data. Facebook fired an engineer for allegedly using his access to stalk women, while Uber caught flak for not doing enough to stop employees from spying on customers through 'God View.' Although these cases are relatively rare, they suggests that governments and companies alike should limit access to a need-to-know basis whenever possible.