SOUTH PLAINFIELD - An incident that lasted just a few minutes at the Middlesex Mall in South Plainfield led to a court case with a precedent-setting decision.

An appeals court has found that the mother of a sleeping 19-month-old child was neglectful when she left her in a locked car with the engine running while she shopped inside the mall for less than 10 minutes.

Family law attorney Allison Williams disagrees with the ruling. "Parents who do something that may not be the best decision," she says, "are now in a category of other people who have done something to violate the law. And they are now placed on a registry kept by the Department of Children and Families."

The ruling doesn't say how young is too young to leave a child alone in the car, but Williams says generally courts consider children under 5 years old most vulnerable.

The mother's attorney says they may appeal to the state supreme court.